BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

Following the frontier Pocock, Roger, 1865-1941 1903

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I. Puppyhood,   ....
II. Sinking,        ....
III. The Trail of the Trooper,
IV. War,      .       .       .      .
V. Peace,   .....
VI. The Great Patrol,    .
VII. The Trail op the Journalist,
VIII. The Trail op the Missionary,
IX. The Trail of the Savage,
X. The Yokohama Pirates,    .
XI. The Trail of the Prospector,
XII. The Trail of the Trader,
XIII. The Trail of the Discouraged
XIV. The Trail of the Cargador,
XV. The Long Trail,
XVI. The Trail of the Outlaw,
XVII. The Desert,
XVIII. A Record in Horsemanship,
THE snow was falling heavily on the ship's
deck, but the place where I sat down had
become quite damp, while in the muzzle of a
popgun I molded white lighthouse towers to mount
on snowball cliffs around my coast. Presently my
brother flounced by along the poop, very important,
his hand dripping gore from a fine new wound. He
was too proud to speak, and I sobbed with jealous
rage.    That is my first memory.
Our home was an old battleship used for the training of " boys unconvicted of crime," but under suspicion ; in my case to be painfully confirmed. As I
grew, too good to be quite wholesome, it was with a general air of having stepped into the wrong century by
mistake. When I was old enough, and went to school
in the Midlands, the big boys, with a healthy instinct
of something wrong, did their best to put me out of
my misery; and I survived, but with broken nerve,
a coward.
Yet that was not so disastrous as the grammar-
school tuition, which still prepares the modern boy to
be a scrivener for the sixteenth century. We asked
for bread, and they gave us a stone—the bones of
dead languages to gnaw instead of the living speech
of living nations; the useless abstractions of Euclid
and the syntax instead of commercial mathematics;
the squalid biographies of English kings instead of
the history of our freedom; the names of counties to
us who were citizens of an Empire; dogmatic theology
to cut us off from Christ; and no training whatever
of the hands in craftsmanship, or of the eye in aiming
rifles to defend our homes.
Having missed an education, I came forth blinking
into the modern world with an apologetic manner appealing for kindness, and large useless hands, as fit
for earning wages as a nine-days' puppy.
When asked to choose a trade I had no impulse, for
all that my forefathers had won with the sword was
barred to the penniless son of a half-pay captain.
My father found me a most suitable opening as a
clerk, but when I was turned out of the Submarine
Telegraph Service, useless, ashamed of being a further
expense, it was to tramp the streets of London in
despair. Because I was too young to enlist, being
only fifteen, my mother found me in the streets and
led me home, saying no words then or afterwards. As
for me, I put on an air of high estrangement, walking
in that mysterious gloom which affords much comfort to the young puppy, but is apt to depress its
When my father felt depressed about his income,
we always moved, generally to another continent, by
way of economy. To this, his one dissipation, my
mother deferred with patience, and had shifted her
home by turns to Jersey, Bombay, Southsea, New Zealand, Ludlow, Shields, and Norwood, without allowing
him to feel disturbed in his comfort. On this occasion the financial depression landed him in Canada, and
we followed—sailing from Liverpool. As we entered
the Gulf of St. Lawrence, a piece of ice nipped off the
ship's propeller, whereupon the third mate explained
to me that we were suffering from rats in the cylinder.
This, with nearly a thousand people on board, was
very awkward, especially when the helpless ship was
picked up by a wandering ice-field, which was jammed
by a gale against the cliffs of Cape Breton. The
frail iron walls -of the liner bent inward, crushed by
incalculable pressure, and we came near the end of all
earthly troubles before a change of wind, and a search
expedition, delivered us timely from the jaws of death.
After our settlement in a cottage beside the St. Lawrence, my father put me out to grass upon a farm, and
the farmer bore with me to the limits of human endurance before he wrote a letter of protest, saying
that he found himself ruled by an elderly gentleman
with a mania for imparting information, and a distaste
for cleaning the stables.
The next expedient was to send me to an agricultural
college, where youths are instructed in the simple elements of inorganic chemistry and the complexities of
sorting out frozen potatoes. The corrupt institution
received quarterly bribes for allowing me to lurk on
the premises.
From this safe anchorage I was wrenched away to
a clerkship in Life Assurance. I worked hard at boating, bathing, and musical evenings, until the management sent word to my father that my valuable time
was being thrown away in their office, and that my
true vocation would be found out of doors, in the
nearest chain-gang. On this my father referred me
to various burning texts in the Holy Scripture, and
■ . ili! 1 PUPPYHOOD
would have cut me off with a shilling but for the painful fact that he was short of change.
In the next stages of the Road to Ruin, I traveled
by train across Ontario, and by steamer through Lake
Huron and Lake Superior, until at the end of a
further voyage in a steam-launch I came to my first
camp on the great Frontier.
The campfire was a stack of dead trees, whose red-
hot logs sent up a column of flame. A circle of tired
men basked in the heat of it, behind them glimmered
a few lighted tents, and walls of black forest towered
gaunt above.
These walls reached away in darkness, but between
them, under the moonlight, there lay a confusion of
jagged roots, charred logs and stumps of trees, with
here the semblance of a ghastly face, there limbs which
seemed to move as though the swath were a battlefield
strewn with the dead and the dying of some unearthly
war. One might have traced that swath hewn in the
timber, with its walls of darkness, and its moonlit ruin,
past many a campfire, many such groups of men, for
had it started from London it would have reached to
Rome, glittering for fourteen hundred miles with the
lighted encampments of an army.    And still this was
but the forest section of a gigantic path then (1883)
in the making, the Canadian Pacific Railway, whose
builders were the pioneers of marching Empire.
But in the first camp on the Trail of the Pioneers
I can only remember, through the mist of years, a
navvy who stood beside me at the fire, a man of middle
age, with a rough Scotch face, who, cocking up one
shrewd gray eye, said quietly, " I hear you're looking
for me ? "
I had come a thousand miles to see the General
Officer commanding this war of giants, and found a
navvy. He glanced at my letter of introduction,
scanned my face again, and so with a patient sigh
turned back to enjoy the warmth of the red flames. He
asked me no futile question as to what I could do, had
no illusive hopes, and if he gave me a job it would
be only to save me from starving to death in the
One glance had shown him a youth tender and awkward, with a nose long enough to lead, but a chin too
weak to follow. Such a chin as that shrinks back
from success in life, such a delicate inquiring nose
always gets hurt in a fight, and dreamy blue eyes are
apt to see much trouble.    Perhaps in Mr. Middleton's
1    I    [si!        li PUPPYHOOD
sigh there was just a trace of pity. He lent me
blankets that night—his own, I think—and next morning took me away in his launch along the coast of
Lake Superior. I wanted to serve in his personal
following, but he knew too much, and palmed me off
that very afternoon upon an unoffending surveyor at
Gravel Bay.
The place was called Gravel Bay because there was
nothing but rock, a towering precipice, in places
abrupt from deep water. The road-bed of the railway had to be hewn out along the edge of the lake,
and, apart from costing two hundred and fifty thousand dollars a mile, it was full of nice little problems
for the engineers to solve. To circumvent the wily
avalanche, to keep the rock-slides from straying across
the track, those were the beginnings of wisdom. And
after rains the embankments were attacked by cataracts five hundred feet high, thundering down from
the sky-line, which had to be persuaded to fall elsewhere.
Then there was the lake always playing tigerish
games with the foreshore. A contractor built a wharf
under our cliffs, and landed a cargo of stores. Next
morning the ship lay in safety, moored head and stern
l[9]        I 1     Si
to the rocks, but wharf and cargo had sunk far beyond
human reach. A few weeks later the sea took another
bite, this time at Mackay's Harbor, where a big log-
camp and the Divisional Storehouses had been newly
built on a commodious point of land. This headland
of gravel, loosened by the rains, slid down its sloping
subsoil of clay, carrying off the buildings, and stores
worth two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The
people had barely time for flight before the settlement
foundered like a ship.
Our survey party was engaged long hours a day in
marking out ground for the railway, and in measuring
the work done by the contractors, whose business was
to cheat the syndicate. My special occupation was
hunting for amethysts, or climbing crags, like a goat,
for the pleasure of reaching the top with an unbroken
neck. These natural pleasures were sorely interrupted
at times by the Boss, who wanted the ground marked
out with numbered stakes, guide signs painted on
rocks, or the dragging about of chains, tapes, and
In the evenings I sat in the tent with the Boss,
sketching ships and pretty girls in his notebooks, and
diverting him from sordid mathematics with most in-
teresting questions. Why was there no blue-colored
food? What word would rhyme with Saturday? Or
I would favor him with new ideas in speculative
astronomy and submarine navigation. I think I was
most practical at meal times. His patience was wonderful, and I was very happy.
Indeed, the life was full of interest and variety, with
occasional thrills when one tumbled off a cliff, dodged
a falling rock, or, climbing from place to place by
rope and ladder, came suddenly upon a little casual
blasting and an unexpected shower of stones. One's
days can never be monotonous when one has much to
do with dynamite, for not even woman is more
capricious in action. I knew a mule once to roll with
a load of dynamite down a hill four hundred feet high.
The mule got up, not a bit surprised, and went for
the nearest grass, with that dynamite uninjured on
her back. Compare that with what happened at
Mackay's: five men were sitting in a cabin watching
a few sticks of frozen dynamite thaw gently on the
stove. The innocent, harmless stuff went off in the
process, and dug the men a large grave on the site
of their cabin.
Seized as I am with a strong craving to tell dyna-
[ 11 ]
mite stories, I must limit myself to events at Gravel
Bay. Not far from our camp there was an overhanging crag some hundred and twenty-five feet high,
known as Death's Head Peak, the scene, during the
previous winter, of a dynamite comedy.
The Construction Syndicate allowed no liquor to
be sold on the works, and appointed detectives to
check the traders who purveyed whisky-and-water
ready mixed at five dollars a pint. In the dead of winter, Tom the Whisky-Runner came along with his
deep-loaded cariole drawn on the ice-clad lake by a
team of dogs. Entering Gravel Bay, he was chased
by a detective on snowshoes, and, failing any hope of
escape, drew up to await the worst under Death's Head
Peak. The detective, having got Tom for sure, was
advancing full of confidence, when the Whisky-Runner took from his load a canister of dynamite, lifted
the heavy cylinder above his head, and remarked:
" You see that stone ? "
The detective saw a stone, projecting from the
snow, midway between them.
I When you pass that stone," said Tom, | down
comes the cliff."
Then the detective ran for life, and Tom drank to
I [ 121      B     1 PUPPYHOOD
the health of his retreating enemy. He drank from
the canister.
Now, lest Death's Head Peak be ever minded hereafter to drop down bodily on some passing train, we
measured it for blasting; the holes were drilled and
charged, and next day the general public was warned
not to loaf about in the neighborhood. When the
fuses were finally lighted our survey boat happened
to be passing in front of the cliff, and the general
public howled at us to clear out. Away we raced at
full speed, but Death's Head Peak rose bodily in the
air and came after us.
In the main we won that race, but some of the
smaller rocks passed over our heads, and fell a long
way to seaward.
With dynamite one got familiar in time, and
callous; but the most hardened navvy had a fear of
the young medical students for whose support we were
all compelled to subscribe. Dynamite is swift but uncertain, but the " doctors " were slow and sure. The
ground, too, was so rocky that their patients had to
be taken some distance away for interment.
The camp where I lived was the dirtiest on the
coast.    The cook's wife died of dirt, but the cook was,
to our deep regret, immune, and the seventy Italian
navvies who slept in the mess-house loft got dysentery
under his treatment. The Surveyor and I had a clean
and pleasant tent, but, when we could not find excuse
for meals elsewhere, we had to feed in the mess-house.
Once, being late, I had supper there alone, and there
was trouble among the Italians up in the loft. It
seems that one of them had stabbed an Irishman,
and in this matter committed a breach of etiquette.
Anyway, he was kicked down the hatchway, lit near
me with a crash and a howl, then fled for shelter
among the cliffs. At midnight he stole back to collect
his pay from the timekeeper, but afterwards renounced
our company.
With all his patience my Boss, the Surveyor, could
not bear with me forever. The cliffs were full of
amethysts, and my collection of slabs grew to a rockery just at the door of the tent. The crystals were
sharp and prickly, so that when he fell over them at
night, he cherished feelings towards me wholly beyond expression. On Sundays his men needed rest,
and that was my special day for getting lost, or stuck
on the face of some impossible cliff. Then an ill-
natured,   hard-swearing,   and   contemptuous   expedi-
tion would be sent to my rescue, and the men would
complain that they lost their day of rest. At the
month's end, when Mr. Middleton came to inspect the
works, my Boss reported himself as a camel and me
as a straw. He had borne up wonderfully; but Mr.
Middleton took me away in the steam-launch.
Morning brought us to Red Rock, a bay set in
bright green meadows, dusky forest, and vivid scarlet
cliffs; and at the head was an old fort of whitewashed
logs, a trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company.
There was I cast ashore as a waste product.
Not far from Fort Nipigon was a construction
camp, with a street of shacks and tents devoted to the
Seven Deadly Sins. The Hotel Vermin, where I lived,
derived some romantic interest from the landlord's
daughter, who had recently shot and wounded a
boarder for failing to pay his bill. I was like to be
in the same case unless I could make my escape from
Nipigon, so spent my days at a point commanding
the bay, hoping that one last steamer would call before the lake froze, for in a few more days the entire
coast would be ice-clad. At last a steamer called at
the Fort, loaded with men, but before I could reach
the wharf she discharged her passengers, then, with-
-c:   - ..»■ ..„,        "   ' FOLLOWING  THE   FRONTIER
out a moment's pause, turned tail and bolted out of
the harbor. There was no escape for me, any more
than there was for those three hundred and seventy-
five men left helpless to starve in the forest. Some
swindling contractor in Toronto had promised them
employment at three dollars and a half a day, rooked
them of their passage-money, then turned them loose
to die.
Foreseeing danger, I hurried • in to warn Camp
Nipigon, which quietly prepared for siege. No provisions could be brought in for at least five months to
come, and not a single ration could be spared. Work
was found for twelve men, but the rest of the
strangers camped hungry in the woods, sending us
deputations at intervals to beg for mercy. All they
got was a side of bacon and a barrel of biscuit, and
that under threat of leveled revolvers. In time the
poor wretches dispersed, eastward and westward along
the line; but the camps, terrified by their very numbers, refused them food, and some tramped two hundred miles eastward along the coast before they found
It was in the wake of their westward drift that I
* struck out on foot, hoping to win through to the town
of Port Arthur. The snow lay deep, the cold had
become intense, and the next lad who attempted the
trip was frozen to death on the way. Four miles out,
at Camp Roland, I found a twelve-mile section of
completed track, a gravel train starting for the rail
head, and a party of Swedish navvies for company.
We did not enjoy that journey, yet had much reason
for gratitude, because, as we lay torpid with cold on
the loads of gravel, big sparks of wood from the engine kept setting our clothes on fire, a thoughtful arrangement of Providence which preserved us from
that sleep which has no awakening. Arrived at the
rail head, the Swedes paid blackmail to the train
hands, only fifty cents apiece for all our pleasures.
Not caring to attend that levee, I walked on, but was
glad of company when the Swedes caught up with
me, for we had no word of any language in common,
and, since we could not possibly disagree, became the
best of friends.
Night had fallen long ago, and we tramped on
mile after mile in search of shelter. From horizon to
horizon, straight as a ray of light, lay the embankment prepared for the railway, a snow-clad road
skirted on either side by a snow-clad clearing, and
that walled on the right hand and the left with forest
of impenetrable gloom. At intervals we would stand
bewildered, wondering why there was no sign of human
life; then move on to escape from the searching
cold and the dreadful silence of an abandoned world.
Hour after hour we moved like ghosts along the spectral course of white, between walls of darkness, and
saw that nightmare avenue reach on to the end of the
earth, even to where it singed the setting stars. At
last we found the ruins of a wayside cabin, within it
a wrecked stove, and a floor free from snow, of rough-
cut pine trees. When the stove was red-hot we lay
down, wishing for supper and blankets; but the floor
was like a bed of knives, and when the fire waned the
outer cold stole in. I sat up then, drowsily feeding
the stove and hugging it; but very soon there was no
more furniture to burn, and the cold came in again.
The logs of the cabin, the trees of the forest were
freezing, and as their sap expanded into ice, they
split with a loud report like a gun-shot. The noise
kept waking me out of stupor; but I was very drowsy,
and as it was not well to fall asleep I stole out of the
cabin to walk on alone down the nightmare avenue
through the woods.   Presently I came to a black river
: |[is]        f   I 1 PUPPYHOOD
barring the way, and across it lay a string of rolling
ice-clad logs chained together. I took the logs at a
run, and walked on. Day broke, and I went lame with
a strained tendon, but contrived to hobble onward.
Noon brought me to a wayside camp, where the people
had been lately so humbled by pestilence that they
allowed me dinner—cash down in advance—and a
bottle of horse liniment which put my leg to rights.
In the last few weeks no less than twenty-three men
had been taken out from that camp and laid on the
dump of the railway, with the next load of gravel by
way of burial.
Daily, the engines go roaring down that curve
swinging their tails of sumptuous carriages, singing
their song of triumph over dead men's bones. There
never yet was a victory won without pain, or a conquest made save by human sacrifice.
Leaving the sorrowful camp I came in the evening
to completed track, and found a gravel train, which
at midnight brought me, well-nigh frozen, into Port
Arthur. The town was very full, but food at last
plentiful, and I found a warm place to sleep—on a
billiard table.
[19] II
PORT ARTHUR was booming, and fully intended to eclipse Chicago. Once, indeed, when
badly lost in the outer forest I came to a touching inscription upon a signpost advising the bears
that here Catherine Street met Johnson Avenue.
They kept their tryst far from the haunts of men.
Among the dipsomaniacs of all nations who thronged
the wooden village I witnessed episodes intended to be
anything but funny. One day, waiting on the hotel
veranda for the dinner-bell, I timed, watch in hand,
a battle fought close by between twenty Hungarian
navvies and thirty Italians. They fought for possession of the coal wharf, the wages being five dollars a
day, and they hurtled like wild boars with knives and
revolvers for twenty-five minutes without one combatant, or even a bystander, being hurt. Under that
veranda sprawled a poor old drunkard in the ditch,
who next week, inheriting a fortune, changed his rags
for a silk hat, evening dress, and long boots.   Three
[ 20 ] SINKING
days he lived in this condition of splendor, but on
the fourth set out for another world. Then there was
the tailor's shop, conducted by a pair of handsome
brothers who paraded their wares in the street, promenading in boots and breeches, embroidered shirts, and
coats of silk corduroy, unspeakably pleased, envied by
all beholders. The town was frequently on fire, always gay; and when the local editor protested at the
main street being used for a race-course, he was admonished by a letter signed, " Yours in blud, the
Throughout one glittering week I reveled in
chocolate creams and toothache, then resorted to a
cheaper hotel and milder forms of debauchery until I
could find employment. I was not in great demand,
but got a fortnight's work engrossing conveyances for
a lawyer, then turned myself loose as a milkman's
chartered accountant. His accounts were on slips of
paper, carried in all his pockets, and inscribed with
cabalistic signs which looked Chinese, yet might have
been Hieratic, but I sorted them out, and he told me
to sue for my wages.
The third employment was in a backwoods clearing.
Probably my master had never employed a man who
talked so brilliantly or on so many themes; but it was
mainly conversational talent which I applied to herding his cattle, and hauling his fence-rails in the snow-
clad woods, to the chopping of water-holes through
the ice of the creek, and the threshing of wheat with
a flail. Still, what with his sweet disposition, and his
need of inexpensive help, we got on fairly well until
one day, when we were threshing stroke on stroke together, I paused to express a thought on paleontology.
His flail struck mine, and, rebounding, smote his jaw.
He never really liked me after that. Even though
relations were strained, I bore no malice, but, as the
days dragged on towards Christmas, was filled with
charitable thoughts and pious hopes, while the missus
filled the larder with everything pleasant to the eye
and good for food. The adopted boy, who carried
logs for the stove, would ogle me in secret, furtively
stroking his stomach; and the smell of the cooking
warmed me with memories of home. We were both
a little dismayed when on Christmas Eve the family
loaded the sleigh and drove off to keep the feast in
town, but were dumb with horror when, racing
straight for the larder, we found it stripped, with only
bare rations for us of bread and bacon.
t'       [22]       jj|l;f SINKING
The dawn of that Christmas broke on log buildings
deeply drifted, and pine trees loaded down with
newly fallen snow. When I had watered the cattle
I went to the threshing-floor, and there, with tired
arms, all the day long beat with my flail, parting
the grain from the straw. So I was able to
pile the mangers with a Christmas feast for the
A kindly neighbor gave us dinner that day, but
when night had fallen, and my work was not nearly
done, I sent the orphan boy to kindle the stove and
get our supper ready in the house. He did not say
that he was offended with me, so when, dead tired,
I crossed the starlit clearing to the house, it was without understanding why the windows were dark and
the door bolted. Before I could begin the preparing
of supper I had to break through the door, and caress
that adopted child with hands of blessing.
With the return of the family next day I found
myself unpopular, but this engaging household refrained from turning me out until New Year's Eve,
it being their religious habit to offer a sacrifice at
times of festival. After the long tramp to Port
Arthur, the New Year of 1884 found me adrift in the
b f\
streets, enjoying a bracing wind at forty degrees below zero.
Without being exactly tempted with any wages, I
was presently engaged as " boots " at an hotel for
navvies, to clean the spittoons, to wait at table, buck
firewood, and chop out the water-hole daily through
five or six feet of ice. Then I must carry forty buckets a day, and an extra forty buckets whenever the
house was on fire, the average being one large conflagration every fortnight. Spare time was devoted to running errands, making beds, scrubbing
floors, tending the stable, and assisting to quiet the
boarders when they wanted to shoot the landlord; but
all these delights came to a sudden end. The house
had been three times on fire, so the date would be on
or about 15th February, when the Boss called me up
to the loft where a boarder was loudly complaining
of his bed. " Jack," said the Boss, for that was my
name at the time, " change beds with this gentleman."
I resigned.
Things had gone badly with me then, but that I
came in for a fortune, a present of twenty-five dollars
from home. I lived at the house of a carpenter's wife,
whose red hair, thin lips, and pale blue eyes should
[ 24 ] SINKING
have been read as signals of danger. From the first
she wanted to borrow my twenty-five dollars, and at
this persisted, until in a fatuous mood I confessed to
having in five weeks paid her the whole amount for my
board. Only by slow degrees she realized that there
was nothing left to borrow, that I was no longer of
use, and cumbered the earth. She was carving a joint
at the time, but, prompt to the idea of business first
and pleasure afterwards, she rushed at once to the
attack. My hand caught the knife as it struck, breaking the force of the blow, but with a demoniac shriek
she stabbed again. Once more I caught the blade,
which cut the arteries of my hand and caused a dreadful mess; but she was making a third rush when her
husband, entering, seized her round the waist. " Get
out! " said he.
But my dignity was ruffled, for the woman had
been rude, and I stood to my demand for an apology.
" Clear out," said the carpenter, " or I'll turn her
This argument was so forcible that I consented to
pack my luggage, and only on being assured that my
hostess was detained with embraces did I venture
across the room with my portmanteau.    Next day I
found from her indignant tradesmen that Mrs. Blank
had left the country, taking the carpenter and all her
personal effects.
My next engagement was as a navvy at a dollar
and a quarter a day, working with a section gang to
keep the Canadian Pacific Railway in repair. The
work consisted of renewing the wooden " ties," or
sleepers, and in leveling the track with fresh ballast—all very dull except the run home in the evening. Then the five of us jumped on our hand-car,
pumped at the windlass brakes to get a start, and went
flying down a seven-mile hill, a wild river on the left,
rock and forest piling high on the right, the whirling, blinding snow lashed straight in our faces, and
the up-train for Winnipeg expected every moment.
Afterwards, if we lived, there would be supper at
Kaministiquia Station. On the whole, it was a nice
week, and I was sorry when the gangs went out on
strike; but in that squabble I had no concern whatever, so shouldered my blankets, and tramped back
through the snow to Port Arthur.
There I fell in with a wandering photographer who
had pop eyes, a round pink face, and a collection of
views   of  the  neighborhood.     For  him  I   peddled
m       [26] S f 1 SINKING
photographs, and might have been enriched but that
he suffered from pronounced alcoholic depression, and
needed forty drinks of whisky every day to correct
the symptoms. His pictures, too, developed striking
alcoholic effects, whereas my customers liked them
plain.    Then the supply failed.
Meanwhile I got the local agency for a book written
by Queen Victoria. Because the people loved her they
wanted copies, and these I ordered from Toronto.
The lonely Frontier town was keen with expectation
for what seemed like a personal message from Our
Lady, but when, after a delay of many weeks, the
parcel came, there was fifty dollars to pay and I was
penniless. I pawned the parcel for fifty dollars, paid
the charges, and handed the goods to my creditor.
Then, trusted with one volume at a time, I delivered
the books to my customers, got the money, made a
settlement of my debts, and from this whirl of finance
emerged in my usual condition—destitute.
The spring had come, heralded by the wooden
steamer Queen, which rammed through the ice-pack on
Thunder Bay, and was made welcome by the population with flags, and cheering, a new brass band of
deadly potency, and a banquet.
All through the summer the west wind brought
clouds in the afternoon, which massed above Thunder
Bay, to break upon the walls of Thunder Cape with
a blinding, deafening display of electric power. From
my little tent outside the town I watched these storms,
as the Indians had watched them for ages. Sixteen
miles out, sheer from the sea, lifted the basalt walls
of Thunder Cape. In size, in shape, in position, this
rock is another Gibraltar, and both promontories are
molded in the likeness of a man lying stark upon
the sea. So the great rock on Lake Superior is known
to the Indians as a divine Hero guarded by the Eagle,
whose wings make thunder and her eyes the lightning.
She nests there every summer, and in her nest preserves the Great Medicine, the Secret of the Life
I thought in those days that I should very soon
know the secret, for I had not much food, or any
strong hold upon life. I never dreamed as yet that
there were others like me, other poor devils, who tried
and failed, and tried and failed again; that our name
was Legion—the Lost Legion. Only one other outcast did I meet, and we were strongly drawn together,
though he was an elderly man and I no more than a
[ 28 ] H SINKING
boy. He was a broken officer from the Imperial Service, by trade an explorer, a man of rare gifts, but a
perfect martyr to delirium tremens. Of him I learned
that from far out beyond the forest, to the westward,
there were Plains reaching a thousand miles with no
tree or rock; and on these prairies ranged some
strange wild cavalry known as the Mounted Police.
The business seemed to be rough, full of adventure
and hardship, a mixture of Heaven and the Happy
Hunting-Grounds, much too good to be true. I appealed to other men who had been to the West. " Oh,
yes! " they would answer; " there's plains, and there's
police, but there aint no money in it."
Month after month the hunger grew upon me, the
craving for the Plains and for that Service, until at
last I managed to pay my fare on the first stage of
the westward journey, and landing from a steamer at
Duluth, the head of Lake Superior, set up my tent in
the suburbs. Being washed out that night by a storm,
I made a new camp in a ruined house on the hill overlooking the city, where the schoolboys came and
played with me. I was a hermit, living on scraps of
bread, hunting for work, until I fell in with a kindly
old labor agent.    He let me live by his stove, where
I got warm, feeding entirely on buttered toast, until
he found me work in a dairy. What with the kindness of the people there, the good food, and the work,
I had gained strength wonderfully, when on the third
day a letter arrived from home. My father had just
heard, he said, of a regiment in Western Canada
known as the Mounted Police. Would I like to join?
He inclosed money to pay for the journey by rail to
the recruiting depot at Winnipeg.
That day a local doctor who examined me as to
fitness for military service, advised me gravely that I
had heart disease. The jumping heart, the flush, the
wildly racing blood were indeed the symptoms of a
malady not to be found in his books, and its name was
[80] Ill
I REACHED Winnipeg on the 3d of November,
1884. Until, turning the last street corner, I
came on the gate of Fort Osborne, the whole business was a daydream, and the reality knocked me cold
against a wall with sheer astonishment. A sentry was
pacing before the gate, an enormous big dragoon.
The helmet and crossbelt were white, the tunic scarlet,
a belt of glittering brass cartridges carried the revolver for side-arms—white gauntlets—breeches with
a broad yellow stripe—long boots—spurs,—they
never would take me! Crushed with disappointment
at his bulk, ashamed to offer up anything so frail or
ignorant as myself, heart jumping with excitement,
feet dragging with shyness, I crept nearer, and
humbly begged for direction. " You wand to tage
on ? " said the sentry, " segond door on der left," and
he swung away to hide a grin.
They must have been hard up for recruits; the
sentry, a German baron, said so afterwards when he
',      [ 811 I
came off duty, and the sergeant in charge of the detachment remarked that the Outfit had sure gone to
the devil. Sure, one poor little devil had come to the
Outfit. They fed me, gave me blankets to sleep in,
were kind to me, and next day shipped me off by noon
train to the Regimental Headquarters at Regina.
The dream had all come true, for as the train rolled
westward I saw the Canadian Plains reaching away
forever, and unbent so far as to patronize two merely
civilian youths who asked me where I was bound for.
There was horror in their eyes when I told them I belonged to the Mounted Police, earnest compassion in
their tone, as they warned me of a more than unpleasant life, an early and most disagreeable death.
Them I derided.
A trooper was shivering on the platform when, in
the small hours of the night, the train pulled up at
Regina. He took me to the town detachment, where
I slept, and in the morning showed me the way to
Barracks. The Plain was a tawny ocean, flecked with
a foam of snowdrifts, from which a thin mist rolled,
and broke on what seemed to be a black reef perhaps
three miles away. As I drew nearer, following the
trail, I saw a fleck of color blaze out above low roofs,
[82]       Hi  I THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   TROOPER
the Union Jack, and heard the faint clear cry of a
What most appealed to me in the next few days was
an   extraordinary   new  phenomenon   in   nature,   the
regular recurrence of meals; and when, after a fortnight, I tried to put on my old civilian waistcoat, it
would not button, either above or below. I was choked
with sheer glory at wearing the Imperial scarlet, faint
with pride when I first walked into town.    The drills
" stables," " fatigues," " rides," and I guards," were
alike splendid new games at which I was always a
duffer, but ever so willing.    No longer hopeless, no
longer sinking from depth to depth, relieved of the
old anxiety as to food, I began shyly to uncurl, to find
vent in those engaging puppyisms which are always
so charming in the young.    When I was arrested for
fighting, the weapons proved to have been billiard-
In this community of the Police every life was a
vivid romance in the making; every man in the barrack-room was hero, fool, or villain, generally all three,
in some quaint tragedy or ghastly comedy.
The man who slept next to me on the right was a
waif raised in some wandering circus as a contortion-
ist. The man on my left was eldest son of a marquis.
In the opening chapter I told an anecdote of Tom the
Whisky-Runner. He was a larrikin in an Australian
mining-camp, then tramp and sailor, before he became whisky-runner, and soldier,—his bed was in the
corner of that room,—and now he is a prosperous
Dutchy Koerner was a horse-thief and a desperate
criminal, driven into the Mounted Police as his only
refuge from justice. Afterwards he deserted, and was
riding into the United States on a stolen horse when
he met with a Vigilance Committee out on the warpath after desperadoes. He had always with us professed his contempt for Vigilantes, but this Committee was certainly most efficient, for they recognized
Dutchy and hanged him. That same Committee
called later at a ranch owned by two of our ex-constables. In the corral the Committee found a bunch
of stolen cattle, and without formality dragged one
of the partners out of the house and hanged him.
Then the other ex-policeman rode in from the Plains,
and, knowing nothing of the lynching, hailed the Vigilantes with a shout of welcome. " Glad to see you,
boys!    Been out a-hunting for you.    Me and my
[84]    I J THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   TROOPER
partner have rounded up a bunch of stock that must
have been stolen somewheres; we've got them waiting
for you in the corral. Why, boys, what's wrong with
you ? "   And then he saw!
Smith's father—that was not the name—was
usually addressed as His Excellency, and Smith began
his career as a naval officer. Twice he won medals for
saving life, and his rise in the service was rapid until
a private calamity unseated his reason. Time healed
that wound, and as a trooper in an irregular corps he
served in one of the early South African campaigns.
Again his promotion was rapid, so that he was captain and adjutant of his regiment, when in a memorable engagement he was shot through the skull. He
lived, recovered his physical health, and was heard of
next as a farmer in Manitoba. Of course he failed,
the English gentleman being as much at home on a
farm as an eagle in a henroost. So he enlisted in the
Mounted Police, and the very first day recognized an
officer on the parade ground. That officer had been
a trooper under him in South Africa, and now their
positions were reversed. The officer in question was
latterly one of the brilliant squadron leaders of
Strathcona's Horse.
I [35]
When I joined the Police, Smith was a corporal,
but he got into trouble for some casual peppering of
recruits with a service revolver. When we met he was
a prisoner, I was prisoner's escort, herding him about
with a gun, and we became friends. We served together in the campaign which followed, and afterwards Smith deserted. He enlisted in the United
States Cavalry and deserted that. It was as a tramp
that he came back to Canada, and Corporal John
Mackie, the novelist, befriended him at Willow Creek
in the Cypress. From thence he managed to drag
himself northwards to Fort Saskatchewan, and there,
at the Police Hospital, was tended in his last days by
one of his old comrades. " I have fought my last
battle, Harry," he whispered, just at the end, " my
last battle—and lost." Then the poor tramp was
given a captain's funeral, and men who had served
with him fired the last salute. So ended the tale of a
man with a broken heart.
In later years I kept record of what befell the men
I served with, so far as facts were known. The results are too terrible to publish. So many gallant
gentlemen were killed or frozen to death on duty, were
slain, in battle, or died by their own hand; but still a
much larger number have left the ranks of the Lost
Legion and become successful men; one has gained
the Victoria Cross, a few made fortunes in the Klondike, and most of all were the retired, who left no
records at all, and are quietly prospering.
Winter came to the Plains, not furtively as in England, seeking out weak lungs, but brilliant, terrible,
and bewildering. First came the snow, providing
most tenderly for the living seeds in the earth. Then,
under a cloudless sky, demoniac hurricanes swept up
the powdery snow in blinding sheets from the ground,
covering all trails, hiding all landmarks, so that a
man caught even between his house and his barn was
like to be lost and perish.
In one blizzard I was sent with three prisoners—a
white man, a negro, and an Indian—to carry lamps
from the canteen to the mess-roon. Midway between
the buildings we got lost, and I drew m}r revolver to
be ready if either of my charges tried to bolt. They
chaffed me gently, knowing that the weather was so
much more deadly than my marksmanship. I put the
Indian ahead, and he smelt the way for us to the nearest buildings. A few days later such a blizzard as that
swept through a Dakota township, and a hundred and
seventy people were frozen to death, including the
mistress of the school with all her pupils.
Only less treacherous were the calm days, forty,
fifty, sixty degrees below zero, when the still dry air
was like a draught of champagne, and one went wild
with sheer delight at being alive. Then came peril
for travelers, for the least disorder of the body withdraws blood from the skin, the cold, striking unnoticed, may strike deep without the slightest warning of pain, and a frozen man be only conscious of
languor, the delicious languor of the last sleep.
Late in December the Northern outposts had to be
re-enforced, and as twenty volunteers were called for,
we were all crazy to go. Each of the men finally
selected harnessed his horse to a sleigh, which carried
him, with his rations, forage, and bedding. The officer
and the senior sergeant took their wives in a covered
sleigh, with a stove and plenty of furs. It was on the
third day out that the expedition got lost on the Salt
Plains, and traveled far on into the night before they
found the trail, which had been drifted over by a
recent storm. The night was cold, some sixty odd
degrees below zero, so that everybody was more or less
frozen and exhausted, when " Sheppey," a little Eng-
lishman, found that his chum, " the Doctor," was
missing. Sheppey went back three miles before he
found the Doctor, badly frozen and stuck in a drift,
with his horse entirely done for. Sheppey changed
horses with the Doctor, and, having saved his life,
most generously punched his head. Broad awake,
and resentful, the Doctor told Sheppey that another
man besides himself was lost, and the heroic lad set out
to find him also. Tracking by starlight miles out from
the trail of the expedition, Sheppey caught up at last
with Crook, who was busy chasing a planet and would
not desist from the hunt. Moreover, Crook was a bad
man to handle, standing six foot six, of gigantic build,
and mad with delirium. The giant was fresh then
from the West Indies, where he had been yachting,
his blood was impoverished, and, running beside his
sleigh, he had become exhausted, then drove on in a
profuse perspiration which froze upon his skin.
Little Sheppey jumped on top of the giant and
punched his head, but though the fight was prolonged
and furious, Crook was beyond all rousing. Nobody
knows how Sheppey managed to get his comrade back
to the expedition, but, like a tug towing a battleship,
he  came  into  camp  triumphant.   The  Doctor   was
[39]    I .1  IV
IN the big barrack-room, while the stove glowed
red-hot, and the ice of the water-pails melted, we
would spend the evening at cards, or cleaning our
harness for a parade, until the bugle called First Post.
Then as we rolled down our blankets on the trestle-
bedsj the whole score of us would be moved by a common impulse to Bedlam games, wherein we hurtled together like wild boars; or a peaceful time, when we
made Fat Thompson sing, or our elders waxed contentious in high debate, while we Ring-Tailed Snorters of less than two years' service were not allowed to
Mutiny, the teamster, would begin the trouble with
some random wager.
t Say, I've got fifteen dollars that says there'll be
war within the month."
That would rouse the Corporal in charge.
" Oh, go soak your head! I say war! Why, where's
[41] I
the grass for their ponies?    The nitchies can't fight
us before June."
" Ahm thinking," purred a Scotch voice, " that
ye're no calculating on this Louis Riel—forbye his
" Visions be damned! " saith Mutiny. " This here
Riel's a practical man with his tail a-waving. Look
what he done on Red River in 'seventy."
"Ran like a rabbit!" the Corporal jeered at
Mutiny. " Him and his hull blooming Republic, when
they seen Wolseley's column—couldn't see their tails
for dust. You ask old Forty-twa—he was right
" Ahm thinking " began the Black Watch veteran. But Mutiny called his fifteen dollars to witness
that we should have war before the end of March.
" Why, look a-here,"—he ate tobacco, and spat at
long range into the hissing stove,—" here's Riel up
North right now, with four or five hundred half-
breeds, old buffalo runners just spoiling for a scrap
with us. Poundmaker is getting proud, and Big
Bear has his tail up—which means that we've got to
fight the whole outfit of Crees. They've sent runners
to old Crowfoot, and the Blackfoot Confederation's
[42] f WAR |-
dancing. The Sioux are out to howl; and if that aint
enough, there's them Fenian Irish outfits ready to
jump in when our fur flies. You bet your socks there's
all of five thousand men, and d'ye think they're going
to sit purring till we send for an army? Not much!
Who says they'll wait for grass? "
" Oh, go away and die! " said the Corporal.
" Here! Dollars talk! " cried Mutiny, gesticulating with a roll of notes. " Plank down your iron dollars.    I'll stake you even money we get wiped out.'
" Ahm thinking this Louis Riel is a'most as windy
as auld Mutiny. He'll no' come up to the scratch,
waur luck, for we've too mony men."
" Hear him! " yelped Mutiny. " Too many men!
We're not five hundred strong, and half of us a heap
of Piebiters! Just look at 'em grinning in them five
beds there—^-one grin to each bed. Oh, you wolf-
mouthed, red-eyed, tear-a-bone-out, buck-hero toughs
of the wild Plains! "
Last Post was sounding, and the Orderly Corporal
had come in, who stood awaiting Mutiny's leisure before he called the roll.
" Er—excuse me, Mistah—er Mutiny, I won't detain you.   Answer your names! "
He called the roll, then read the Orders—all hands
warned for the North.    The war had come!
The French-Indian half-breeds of the West, a forlorn remnant of the lost Empire of France, had never
fully consented to English rule. Working faithfully
as voyageurs and hunters for the Hudson's Bay Company, they cherished still their ancient hatred of our
race, and had in 1814-16 and again in 1870 revolted
in open war against the advancing settlements of
Canada. Of late years they had built their cabins
six hundred miles beyond the last Canadian village in
the West, in a lonely glade beside the South Saskatchewan River. Again our marching Empire had rolled
past them, and now a surly Government denied them
a title to their farms. So in their discontent they
listened to an orator of their own blood, a romantic
visionary claiming inspiration from on high to set up
a Heavenly Republic. Louis Riel told his people to
wear once more their old-time deerskin shirts, to take
their rifles for war. The white settlers and the
Mounted Police were to be driven away, the bison
would come back to the Plains, and they with the
Indian tribes should live at peace—a Republic of the
[44] WAR
They were simple as they were brave, and, asking
for a sign, were told by their leader that on the 17th
of March he would blot out the sun and make total
darkness over the whole earth.
All this came true, as he had prophesied, and the
Ciee nation joined Riel with over two thousand warriors. The Blackfeet wavered, roused by Riel's messengers, chaffed by the men of our little helpless detachments. The danger would be awful if they rose,
for the settlers had scarcely a rifle among them, and
our regiment was weak even for its work in time of
peace. To the East lay a thousand miles of forest,
shutting us off from help until the new railroad was
finished, and to the West six hundred miles of mountains barring us out from succor. Our chief,
Colonel Irvine, scratched his sorrel head, and knew
it was very awkward. How was he to find an
army to suppress thi§ Heavenly Republic in the
North? I
He scratched up ninety-six men. On Sunday
(17th March, 1885), while we were all in a rush of
preparation, the sun went black, the stars shone out
from the noon sky, and we had to stop work in the
darkness, knowing that this total eclipse was the sign
[45] I
for the fighting tribes to rise, for the massacre of our
far-strung settlements.
We had to cross three hundred miles of unbroken
snowfield, where there was not an ounce of food for
horse or man, and that little fact reduced our army
to a convoy of sleighs laden with forage. We saw
the Colonel's sorrel top go roan with worry, but what
with his discipline, his horsemanship, and perfect
service of scouts, we made that three-hundred-mile
march at an average of forty-two miles a day, through
a hostile country, without being cut to pieces. Gentlemen of the Imperial Army, please note that record.
We marched with scouts ahead, vedettes in our front,
then an advance-guard and rear-guard of cavalry
covering the long procession of sleighs. My place,
as a mere recruit, was with the transport. We made
our fourth camp on the Salt Plains, drenched all of
us to the skin with a sopping thaw. We set up the
tents, wrung out our boots, and slept; but at 3.30
A. m., when reveille sounded, the weather had changed,
it was twenty-five degrees below zero, and our clothes
were stiff ice from the waist downwards. Each man
had his moccasins—skin-shoes for cold weather—
ready in the pockets of his buffalo overcoat; and all
[46]    i1 WAR
of us were ready except two. The Scout-Interpreter
had been careless, and lost a big toe.
I was ignorant of the climate, had not kept my
moccasins within reach, could not get them out of the
transport, and spent fifteen minutes dragging on my
frozen cavalry boots. When we marched I thought
it was cramp which gripped me from the knees to the
heels, and though it was difficult to move, I trotted
beside a sleigh, wondering what caused me so much
pain. My little growls would have done no good to
anybody, and where all were uncomfortable it was
better not to complain. After about eighteen miles
I lay on the sleigh, and the fellows told me that it
would serve me right if I froze. Would I freeze like
a man rather than run behind like a dog? Then they
belabored me with advice.
At the noon halt I was told off on picket to guard
camp, but, not feeling well enough, went sick.
The Hospital Sergeant found that the chafing of
the frozen leather as I ran had almost severed the toes
of the right foot, and that I was solidly frozen up to
the calves, of no more use to the Colonel.
Chafing with snow would have rubbed away the tissues, heat would have resulted in death by gangrene;
so for seven hours of the afternoon march I sat on a
sleigh-box luxurious, with six ounces of brandy inside,
and my feet in a bucket of water kept cool with snow.
After supper came a general collapse from shock, and
the pain which results from a scalding. That ni^ht
the officers gave their tent to the sick, for despite the
use of goggles we had several men already totally
blind from the glare on ice-crusted snow. Next day
there were sixty-five of us blind because of a hot mist
rising from the snow glare.    I went blind that day.
Some of our civilian frieghters, unable to keep the
pace, fell astern and were captured; and the stage
station which we reached that night had just been
sacked by the rebels. Our camp was pitched as usual,
but with a man in each tent to drop the canvas if a shot
were fired, and a third of our whole force on the alert.
By day we were helplessly blind, but at night the pain
is eased and one is able to see. From my place in a
corner of the log-cabin I watched the Colonel seated
before a red blaze of fire, while a scout gave him
news of an ambush prepared for us at Batoche. There
was bare ground on the trail ahead, at the hill by the
Church of St. Antoine, a place very difficult for
sleighs, the woods on either side being lined with rifle-
I    [48]    I U WAR
pits, and the enemy's whole force in waiting. Would
the Colonel be pleased to step in ? Months afterwards
I found in Riel's private diary the note of which this
is a rough translation: " The Spirit of God speaks
to me concerning the Police . . . * if you take that
road there,' the Holiness designated the road which
passed under the Church of St. Antoine, going upwards, ' you will yet be in time to take them. There
must be no resting until you reach that hill.' The
Spirit of God pointed to the hill which is just beyond
We struck camp at midnight and marched, and no
man's hand must leave the grip of his carbine, no one
must speak above a whisper, while we crept past the
ambush by a different trail, and all day long drove
on through sparkling, frosted woodlands and white
glades, a very quiet, suffering little army, for the most
part blind. We were the forlorn hope of Western
Canada, on us depended thousands of women and
children marked out for butchery, outrage, death at
the stake, and every nameless horror of Indian war.
I think the Spirit of God was partly with us that
As it was cold, a man was told off to keep me awake
[ 49 ] 1
in the sleigh-bed by punching me in the ribs; it would
not have been safe to sleep.
In my little-puppy days I had read books of adventure about nice clean boys, dressed in buckskin suits,
who scalped the Redskin, escaped from packs of wolves,
and had thrilling times in canoes along the Saskatchewan. That day, as we crossed the ice on the South
Branch of the Saskatchewan, I must needs have a look
at the romantic river, so with reluctant fingers dragged
my eyelids open for just one glance.
Now I must try to explain the shape of the seat of
war into which we had entered. Two rivers born in
the Rocky Mountains come rolling eastward across the
Plains, and after a course of seven hundred miles
these two branches meet to form the Great Saskatchewan. Above their junction, up the South Branch,
was Batoche, the Rebel capital near which Mr. Riel
had politely arranged an ambush. Leaving that
astern, we crossed the South Branch, to enter the coun-
tr}T between the rivers, then headed for Prince Albert,
the threatened settlement, upon the North Branch,
distant some fifty miles. To the west of that village,
up the North Branch, was Fort Carlton, a post of the
Hudson's Bay Company, held by D Troop of the
[50] I "' 1 WAR
Mounted Police, with some Volunteers, and commanded
by Superintendent Crozier. These three positions,
Batoche, Prince Albert, and Fort Carlton, formed a
triangle, the connecting trails being each about fifty
miles long.
We reached Prince Albert late, after a sixty-mile
march, and as our advance-guard rode down the village trail the sentries of the local Volunteers did us
the honor to present arms, standing, with many
blushes at the salute, under a fire of chaff. For five
miles we followed the bank of the North Saskatchewan,
among log-houses aglow with warmth and comfort,
and so reached our camping-place at last, the detachment barracks of the Mounted Police. There I was
left in company with several men who were still totally
blind, while after a day's rest the expedition marched
to relieve Fort Carlton.
The rebels from Batoche, reluctant in a blue funk,
were marching on Carlton, the Colonel was burning
trail to get there first, while Crozier had to sit in the
fort, eating his tongue until re-enforcements came. He
had hoped for our column on the 24th, waited through
the 25th, and saw the dawn break on the 26th; forbidden in plain terms to leave the fort, thinking the coun-
[ 51 1 I I
try lost unless he struck, mad to get out and fight,
amazed at seeing himself behave so prettily. Then,
in presence of the whole garrison, the Hudson's Bay
Company factor called Crozier a coward. After that
this hot Irish gentleman could bear no more, broke
loose from discipline, threw his own career to the winds,
and wanted to get killed.
He had sent out a party to get supplies from Duck
Lake trading-post before it was seized by the advancing rebels, but the enemy rolled back that detachment
in headlong flight to the fort. Instantly Crozier
sounded " Boot and Saddle," paraded his sixty Police
and thirty-five Volunteers, and marched. The man
who had called him a coward stayed behind.
Some eight miles south of the fort, Crozier's party
met the whole force of rebels marching on Carlton.
The Hunters were not quite ready, but must have
time to surround the white men and get under cover
before they began to fight. That is why Chief Beardy
of the Crees came strolling up to Crozier with a flag
of truce. There was much talking, for the chief stood
making an oration, and Joe Mackay interpreted, and
Crozier bent down in his saddle, listening thoughtfully. Slowly the Indians and half-breeds were get-
1 [52]    fili     1     1 WAR
ting into position, forming a horseshoe line around
the Police, until Beardy got tired of his oration, and,
speaking still of peace, tried to snatch the Interpreter's
carbine. Joe pulled his revolver and riddled the
Indian with lead.
Now the surrounding woods began to spit flames
at the Police as they lay behind their sleighs drawn
up across the road. Crozier swung round in the
" Fire, boys! " he yelled.
" Please, sir, you're right in the line of fire!" said
the seven-pounder gun.
" Oh, never mind me!" answered Crozier; and the
fight began, the first round from the seven-pounder
wiping out seven rebels.
" Most unfair," said the half-breeds, because, what
with the discharge and an explosive shell, " it shot
twice every time it was fired."
Again the gun was loaded, this time with the shell
first and the powder afterwards. The Mounted Police
were never quite at home with artillery, and of course
the " beastly thing jammed." The horses had been
led to the rear, the men fought from cover of the
sleighs,   officers   standing;   and   though   there   was
[ 53 ] I     i
nothing to shoot at but smoke, the well on an Indian
farm near by was afterwards found jammed to the
brim with dead bodies. As the position became more
and more desperate, our Volunteers made a gallant
attempt to charge, but the snow was five feet deep
and they were butchered.
The snow was getting all bloody, an advance was
impossible, and the enemy were closing down on the
rear when, after twenty-five minutes, Crozier gave the
order to retreat. The horses were shot down as they
were harnessed, barely sleighs enough could be saved
to carry eight wounded men, and twelve were left dead
in the drifts when at last the retreat began. One man,
out of sight behind some bushes, dragging himself
through the drifts with a broken leg, saw the rearguard covering the sleighs fall back round a curve of
the road.    He was left behind.
This Newitt was a Canadian, a shop assistant from
Prince Albert, where his mother lived; and, curiously
astray from his line of business, the gallant youngster
made his peace with Heaven. Drowsy with pain, he
saw an Indian stand over him with clubbed rifle to dash
out his brains, and his hand was shattered warding off
the blow.    Again the rifle swung, but was caught away
[ 54 ] WAR
just at the last moment by a half-breed who knew the
lad. After that Newitt lay for ten weeks a prisoner
before he was rescued, but the Republic of the Hunters
obeyed the laws of war with punctilious courtesy, and
their honor was not stained by any outrage. The
Indians plundered, burned, scalped, and massacred,
but not those wild children of the old French Empire.
Very slowly, for the sake of the wounded, Crozier's
forlorn retreat moved down on Carlton, and came to
the fort just as the Colonel's relief column swept in
through the gates. The man who called Crozier a
coward was there to receive them. He had set the
Plains on fire.
Carlton was a fort of the Hudson's Bay Company
where the buffalo runners in old times delivered their
meat, to be carried away by yearly canoe-fleets bound
for the ultimate North. The little fort lay in the
valley of the North Saskatchewan, commanded on all
sides from the edge of the Plains above. In view, of
the peril of the Prince Albert settlement, Carlton could
not be held, but the stores of enormous value were
not to be left to the enemy. On the 27th the garrison
was invited to sack the shop for their own benefit; the
saddles were chopped to pieces, the provisions were
soaked with petroleum, the rifles broken, and all things
made ready for flight. A mortally wounded man died
and was buried, patrols were fired on close outside the
fort, there were wild rumors of treason, hourly alarms.
So the day passed.
At midnight some refugee women lighted a stove in
the gate-house—and, above, the naked stove passed
through an upper room. There the Sergeant-Major,
preparing mattresses for the wounded, had left a pile
of hay.    That hay caught fire.
In the last chapter I mentioned | the Doctor " badly
frozen on the Salt Plains. He, the son of an English General Officer, was Hospital Orderly tending two
desperately wounded men in the next room. When
he found that the house was on fire, he knew well that
these men must be burned to death in their beds unless
he kept back the flames, and made such a-battle for
their lives that both escaped in time. The Orderly
had his face burned so that nobody might know who
he was, but he remained on duty quietly tending the
The gate-house was in flames, and the fire extended
swiftly until three sides of the fort were burning.
Sleighs were being loaded with wounded and refugees;
[56] W WAR
horses, half mad with fright, were put in harness; the
ground was shaken with explosions, the flames, towering far aloft, were giving signal to the enemy; and
still two hundred and fifty people were locked in that
burning square until the ringing axes finished their
work, and a road was opened through the old stockade.
And then began the night retreat on Prince Albert.
Within twelve hours after Duck Lake fight a scout
rode down into Prince Albert, warning us there to
be prepared for the worst. There could be no doubt
now that the fighting tribes would rise: the Crees who
surrounded us, the Assiniboines in the South, the ranging bands of Sioux, the terrible Blackfoot confederation. In those days Prince Albert was the most
northerly village in the New World; seventeen hundred miles from civilized Canada, seventeen hundred
miles removed from succor. Already the rich and
populous settlement was being abandoned, the village
was jammed with refugees; and although the Colonel
in passing, had arranged for some sort of defense, our
Volunteers were fierce rather than formidable. They
were arming with shot-guns and sticks.
When, in the dead of night, the news of Duck Lake
aroused us all from sleep, in frantic haste merchants
and clergy, doctors and clerks, began to haul firewood,
good four-foot logs, from the backyards, which were
piled into most formidable walls. Within ten hours
they built a fort of refuge, inclosing the Presbyterian
Church and Manse, the only brick buildings then in
the village. By noon the work was finished, the women
and children were under shelter; indeed, as I was carried in from the barracks, I saw the Hudson's Bay
post, together with all the houses, abandoned to its
A civilian sentry presented arms to me at the gate,
an honor due only to the dead, so I chaffed him—we
always chaffed those wonderful town guards. Within
the stockade there was confusion of heaped-up merchandise, but that was peaceful compared with the
church, which was mess-house, main-guard, women's
quarters, powder magazine, and nursery, all in a space
of thirty feet by forty. I was laid in the left-hand
corner of the dais, and from thence, whenever I got
hungry, I would send little boys out foraging. I met
two of those same boys in 1901 as veteran troopers
returned from the South African War, and they told
me that the earliest memory of their lives was that
fort of refuge.
[58] I WAR |
Through the long, grim hours of that day and the
next, I watched from my corner quaint scenes of unfailing comedy. Each mother, the moment she found
a camping-place under some table, set up her housekeeping, made a complete home, gravely washed her
babies, solemnly smacked them, put them to bed,
crooned them to sleep with song, and did her hair.
With her mouth full of hairpins she would protest
most vigorously if some chance Volunteer, dining at
the table overhead, poured tea down the back of her
neck, or protruded muddy feet into her parlor. Rival
households disparaged one another through a suspended shawl; friendly families gossiped with only
the legs of the table erect between them; and as to the
scandal—I would blush to the roots of my hair.
The Bishop—Saskatchewan Jack of glorious memory—abandoned by his panic-stricken court, got so
lonely at Immanuel College that at last he loaded his
treasure, a case marked § Bibles," on the Episcopal
sleigh, and came to seek refuge with the rest. Well
I remember his Lordship swinging his short legs as
he sat on the corner of a table eating a hard-tack
biscuit, while in impressive measures he chanted the
iniquities of the Mounted Police. One would think
that in a time of general peril these profane troopers
might shrink at least from open robbery, but even his
case of Bibles had not been respected. I may mention that our boys of the Prince Albert detachment
found something more than spiritual consolation
within that case marked || Bibles," and were fattening
on the luxuries of the Episcopal larder while his Lordship fasted in church.
As to the Presbyterian minister, he stood in his pulpit that evening without any impetus to preach. A
heap of loose gunpowder lay on the dais beside him,
from which he served rations to a string of Volunteers
as they filed past him, peaceably smoking their pipes.
The space under the church floor was rumored to hold
thirty barrels of powder, to be touched off in case the
Indians succeeded in breaching our stockade.
The women gossiped cheerily as they washed up
the dishes after supper, the swinging lamps were
lighted as the daylight waned, men waiting their turn
for guard sat gingerly nursing unaccustomed rifles,
and the little children were playing at being Red
Indians while their mothers tried to hunt them off to
bed.    Such was the calm before the big storm broke.
Some sixteen miles from the village, two weary
[60] WAR
scouts came to anchor on a deserted farm. They had
fed their horses, strangled and cooked a fowl, and
were just sitting down to supper when a couple of
half-breed rebels strolled in through the kitchen door.
The smell of the chicken appealed to them also, for
they were very hungry; but, as lying is smoother than
war, they sequestered that supper without any needless
bloodshed, merely announcing the white men prisoners
and themselves the advance-guard of Riel's army.
The two scouts paused for no details, but with touching credulity believed, and bolted through the window
leaving their supper to the enemy. They mounted
their horses, lashed themselves into hysterics as they
rode, and an hour later came at full gallop into the
village, yelling that the enemy had arrived.
The Carlton garrison had entered Prince Albert at
sundown. Camped at the detachment barracks, the
men, worn out with seventy hours on duty, just saw
to the comfort of their horses, then went to sleep where
they dropped. There was no rest for them, for at
that moment the alarm rang out which was to keep
them on parade all night guarding the fort of refuge.
From my corner in the church I was lazily watching
the minister as, with queer clerical gestures and a tin
[ 6i ]        1 ■ y L
cup, he administered rations of powder. By my feet
sat one of our corporals, still blind from the glare of
the snow, and he predicted disaster at intervals. " I
could see," said he, " but for these beastly lamps "—
for snow-blind men can use their eyes at night.
A man rushed in at the door howling 1 To arms! "
The bell in the cupola clashed out a wild alarm; the
Corporal was fighting over my legs with a Volunteer
who had tried to steal his carbine; somebody with a
revolver was threatening to shoot everybody else who
was frightened; a mob of men were running about
waving their rifles and screaming; hundreds of women
and children were swarming in for shelter; and over
all the din I could hear what seemed like the clear, insistent rattle of musketry. It was only hammering;
the removal of a barn obstructed the view from
the ramparts, but it made very passable musketry.
The women were having a good cry, the girls
howled, but the little boys were pleased all to pieces.
Two bright-eyed youngsters promised to filch me a
As for me, in the first crash of the panic my heart
made one big leap of fear, but, as I could not run
about, I had no occasion to howl.    From the window
[62] I    ..   I WAR
overhead there might be some decent shooting out
over the rampart, so, taking my crippled revolver, I
tried to climb up; tried and tried again, but always
came tumbling down. If one had never made a wholesale ass of one's self, but always behaved with propriety, how deadly dull it would be to look back on
life!   That never yet bored me.
Over three hundred women now thronged the church,
and, seized with a sudden self-consciousness, I
groveled in horrified concealment under my rug
against the wall. Then, when only my blushes were
visible, six women and seven children camped on my
bed. Perhaps it was the scarlet uniform jacket
which brought that distracted fold to me with frantic
appeals for help; and of course, for my honor, I lied,
vowing to restore their lost husbands, brothers, and
sons, yea, sires and uncles also, if they would only
be good and keep quiet.
Slowly the tumult lulled to exhausted calm, broken
at times even then with yells of fright when somebody
smashed glass with a bayonet to save us from suffocation, or one of those blessed Volunteers let off his
demon rifle, boring a hole through the roof. At last
I saw a man stand at the door with tidings,  and
-' mm   [63]
through an intense hush of expectation a wave of
whispering carried his news through the church.
The enemy were still some miles away from the
The dawn broke after a while, and it was Palm
There had been a bewildering rush of events: the
march to the North, Duck Lake fight, the burning
and evacuation of Carlton, the retreat on Prince
Albert, the great night panic. Afterwards there was
a lull of seven weeks, in which no news reached the
village. We did not take ourselves too seriously.
Ours was only a little affair of outposts, whereas England was on the instant verge of war against Russia.
In presence of that Titanic argument our sorest grievance was lack of newspapers.
Poor Louis Riel saw visions and dreamed dreams,
communed with angels, and wrote it all down in his
diary. His Republic of the Hunters, wholly engrossed
with thought, sat in a state of enchantment perfectly
harmless. But the tribes had risen and wrapped our
settlements in flames, spreading devastation for several hundred miles across the Plains. In the whole of
Central Saskatchewan we had at last but two strong-
[64] WAR
holds left, where the settlers were in refuge at Prince
Albert and Battleford.
Then came the turning of the tide. Those old
allies, the Cowboys and the Police, secured the Southwestern stock-range and all Alberta by soothing the
riotous nerves of the Blackfoot nation. Thence,
marching to the relief of Battleford, they engaged
and defeated the Crees. An expedition of five thousand men came up from Eastern Canada, which, after
surmounting many difficulties, gave battle to the
enemy at Batoche, and in a three-days' siege wiped out
the Republic of the Hunters. And so, with occasional
actions, swift, bloody, and conclusive, the tide of war
rolled on into the very fastnesses of the Northern
Forest, where the tribes at last dispersed. Riel surrendered to take his trial for treason felony; and with
many expressions of mutual regret we hanged him.
The campaign was bitter shame for us of the Mounted
Police, that we should have let our parishioners so get
out of hand.
It was late in May when our two troops from Prince
Albert came down at last out of the Forest. The
horses were dying of starvation, the men had lived
for  weeks by  snaring rabbits,  and the homeward
march dragged out long, hungry miles until one summer day they came to the edge of the Plains. Then
someone remembered: " Why, boys, it's the twenty-
fourth ! " and he flung his sombrero in the air. " The
twenty-fourth of May! " cried a man behind him, as
he sent a bullet whizzing through the hat: " Queen's
Birthday, you fellows! " Every hat went skywards,
a royal salute with revolvers riddled them in the air,
and all along the line rang out the National Anthem.
So our boys rode home to us over prairies ablaze
with flowers; steamers swung past us down the North
Saskatchewan, deep with victorious regiments homeward bound; our long patrols went out to scour the
Plains, to fight destroying fires in long grass, to execute justice, to vindicate the Peace; and then the
mighty winter came roaring down, and the white
months went by until a year had rolled over our heads
since Duck Lake fight.
We had an understanding among ourselves that
compulsory church parades were opposed to the spirit
of religion. We would walk three miles to attend free
evensong, but forced matins were a duet between the
officer commanding and the Bishop; and he who responded, sang, or offered up real coins, must be dipped
[ 66 ] war §;
in the ice-girt river. But when on the anniversary of
Duck Lake fight the Bishop called for an armed parade to the memory of our dead, we responded, we
sang, we offered up real coins.
As for me, should I tell the annals of a bed, a pair
of crutches, and a walking-stick? I think not. And
yet of all my years in the Lost Legion that has most
humors to look back upon. I had time to watch.
Where each man's life was gemmed with bright adventure, and hundreds of lives made up the tangled
skein, one threads through tortuous byways of
memory, and has an epic for transcription, not a
[67] THROUGH a long convalescence I had written bad verses, worse fiction, and sold incredibly vile sketches in water-color, helped
m the spelling and grammar of local journalism, and
traded in cigars, giving credit, much to the amusement
of the troop.
Now with the spring of 1886, though the wound
upon my foot refused to heal, I was able to wear
boots, to walk, to ride, to do full duty and forget that
I was an invalid.
Ever since the war the regiment had been restive,
and our chiefs reported the young men hard to hold,
for troop after troop broke out in mutiny which had
to be punished, and there was a heavy tale besides of
suicides and desertions. We meant no harm, but we
were all very young and nervous, with the blood burning in our veins, and the whole pack of us, not knowing what we wanted, were like young wolves howling
for trouble.    The officers did their best, drilling us
[68] I PEACE
severely; but then D Troop at Battleford must needs
fall sick of typhoid, and Death swept through the
So our F Troop was called upon for thirty men
to take over the Battleford district, and I got leave
to join this detachment, hoping that change of air
would heal my wound.
For the first day's march there were farms at intervals, then came a belt of old sand-drift overgrown
with pines, and beyond that, for a hundred miles or
so, no house, no bush, but a swell of golden grass rolling away to violet distances. Clear down the years
comes the especial memory of Eagle Creek, where,
sunk three hundred feet below the plains, there is a
chain of pools, and an acre or so of meadow starred
with the ashes of old campfires. The little foxes
played there while it was cool before bedtime, a crane
stood on one leg, hoping for a fish by way of supper,
and the rim of the shadowed canyon glowed orange
against the sky. But when a cloud of dust arose behind the rim of the high plains, and the tramp of our
horses sounded soft thunder-notes of warning, the
little foxes crept with their mother to earth, and the
crane flapped lazily away into the blue gloom of even-
ing. Presently a mounted man came out upon the
edge of the ravine, the sun glowing chestnut upon his
horse, flame upon the scarlet of his coat, star specks
on bright accouterments. Then in half-sections came
our twenty riders, each man with a carbine poised
across the horn of the stock saddle, and many a point
of glittering light upon his harness. At a word of
command the riders dismounted to lead, while behind
them appeared five wagons, each with driver and off
man, and a pair of troopers, our rear-guard, waiting
for the dust to abate before they followed down the
breakneck hill. Our fellows were dressed in suits of
brown canvas, or fringed deerskin, or gray flannel
shirts with a silk kerchief round the neck, or an old
red jacket, just as we pleased, long boots, sombrero
hats, belts glittering with a line of brass cartridges,
and big revolvers ready at the right hand. Ours were
hard-featured, weather-beaten, dusty, great big men,
with such clear, far-searching eyes, such pride of bearing, swaggering gallantry, and wild grace in the
saddle that one despairs of ever, with words or colors,
making a picture worthy of the theme.
The teamsters  got their  wagons  down  the hill,
shaving disaster by^ the very edge, and glad to reach
1 III [70] PEACE
the bottom with unbroken bones. The mounted men
had formed up, and were unsaddling; the wagons
made a second line in their rear at forty-foot intervals, then a rope was stretched from wheel to wheel,
to which each trooper tied his horse, before the teams
were unharnessed. Meanwhile three off men had
chosen a spot by some bushes, where an iron bar was
set on a pair of uprights five feet apart, and, before
the sound of axes had ceased in the bush behind, three
full kettles swung over a roaring fire. A bell-tent
was pitched for the officer commanding; the horses
were watered, groomed, and fed; then, at a merry call
from the bugle, there was a general dash to the wagons for plates and cups, while knives were whipped
from belt or boot-leg, ready for a general assault on
fried bacon, hard biscuit, and scalding tea. After
the meal there was a lively cross-fire of chaff, a cutting and burning of plug tobacco, and delicate gray
smoke lifting towards the white stars which stole softly
out of the twilight.
Presently the horses were hobbled, turned out with
great clatter of chain-links, and ungainly leaps, to
grass, and placed in charge of a relief of pickets who
must watch by turns through the long silence of the
night. Blankets were spread along the saddle line, or
in or under wagons. First Post was sounded, Last
Post was sounded, and then the sweet notes of the
Regimental Call went throbbing against the hills, crying to the stars:
" That's all, boys. Dream of the girls you've lost.
Lights Out."
I think it was when the Great Bear stood on his
head, when all the horses slept, and the slow dawn
widened, that the dream-people came—mothers, sisters,
lovers, the folk who wake in the night thinking of
those they love, praying for their men. That is why
the grass seemed all to be sparkling with little tears,
when the young day shone on Eagle Creek, and the
bugler roused us with sudden triumphant music of
the reveille.
We rolled our blankets, washed, loaded the wagons, tended the horses, breakfasted, harnessed,
marched, and before the sun had looked down over the
canyon wall, the riders were breasting the hillside, the
transport groaning across the meadow.
When we came to the edge of the plain overlooking
the Battle River, it was to camp among wild-flowers
in a lusty wind, where we were safe from the con-
I   [72] 1 PEACE
tagion of Fort Battleford. Thence daily we watched
the funeral pageants creeping across the valley; or
venturing, without leave, down to the fort, met
ghostly white invalids, more or less insane, the veterans of D Troop. One of these, dressed for a burning summer day in buffalo coat and lavender kid
gloves, wept to me about the number of such gloves
which he could buy if only he could get his month's
pay safely invested.
That night the. poor beggar, breaking out of hospital, ran a couple of miles in his socks through the
dewy grass, turned out a sleeping household, and complained to a brace of scared old maids that his feet
were too cold for the journey.   He died next day.
One of our fellows, passing a house by the fort,
heard an altercation, and through the open window
saw Mrs. Billy, who, finding her husband, the canteen
man, drunk, had knocked him down " and put the
boots to him." She was discovered jumping on his
chest, sobbing her heart out the while with grief at
his misconduct.
" Oh, Billy, and we might have such an 'appy
The officers were drinking, the troop was crazy,
and Dr. Miller, best loved of all men in the regiment,
was seized with misgivings. He did not know if he
had been quite sober while performing an operation,
doubted if he was fit to live any longer, and went to
his room. There he lay on his bed, put the muzzle
of his carbine between his teeth, and touched the trigger with his great toe—but afterwards the men Who
came to clean the room found that, considerate to the
end, this poor gentleman had spread sheets to make
their task easy.
It was well that D Troop should be sent away to
get back health and reason on a seven-hundred-mile
march across the Plains.
They rode out past our camp very stiff and military, in full uniform, pink-and-white, like girls at a
ball, uneasy under the stare of our hard men, with
the band at their head, and a blaze of gold and scarlet.
As they passed, C Troop came rolling in from
Macleod to take their place, romping on fat horses,
glowing with health, bubbling over with wickedness,
gorgeous in cowboy or Indian dress, woolly shaps,
long-fringed deerskin shirts, red sashes, scalps taken
in action; and one or two with their own squaws,
horses, tepees—a retinue trailing astern of the pro-
I [74] § PEACE
cession. C sniffed, D blushed, F stared at that encounter, the most splendid pageant I have ever seen
on the Frontier.
Our F Detachment now handed over the district,
with custody of the Cree nation, to the relieving troop,
and we rolled off across the Plains back to Prince
The wild fruit was ripe, the autumn fires, sweeping
for hundreds of miles, covered the land with a blue
veil of smoke, the poplars were changing to tremulous gold, the pools were freezing, when our troop
struck camp for winter quarters in some old log-huts.
Then the officer commanding had me into his drawing-
room, where I sat on the edge of a chair, too nervous
to remove my forage-cap. Was it quite honest, he
asked gently, for me to take full pay for half
service ?
I did not care, so long as I might serve.
Was it quite wise, he suggested, to serve with an
open wound draining away my strength?
I was never very wise.    So the words were spoken,
and by wagon and coach I was sent down to Regina.
The last stage of the journey was by train in the
middle of the night, and perhaps I was a little be-
■■'; [ 75 ] 0'
wildered at having met again with linen sheets, tablecloths, pretty waitresses, on reaching the edge of civilization. The train, too, seemed to make a dreadful
noise after the great silence in the North. The day-
car was empty save for the sweet presence of an English gentlewoman, marvelously fair; sitting up all
night because only rich people could afford the luxurious rear-end of the train. Humbly I ventured to
offer her my rug, but she repulsed me, and I wanted
to crawl away and die.
Then, with a mad recklessness, I dared to approach
again, offering up a novel to amuse her loneliness, but
a glance sent me flying, put to utter confusion. The
smart cavalry uniform, which might have pleased the
waitresses at Troy, branded me with this lady as a
Tommy cast by art magic into the wilderness, who
had no right to be frantic with love at first sight, or
make audacious worship. Perhaps the maid was shy,
but the boy was projecting a dramatic suicide when
the train slowed down for Regina. So was my first
love nipped by a pitiless frost, and I went with my
sore heart to report at headquarters.
So the end came, and I sat very miserable on
a   bed   while   the   Orderly   Sergeant   read   General
[76] PEACE
Orders to men lying drowsy in the long barrack-
" Regimental Number 1107 Constable Pocock, having been invalided, is hereby struck off the strength
of the Force."
As I sneaked out past the guard-house, a sentry
challenged me:
" Halt!   Who goes there?
" A friend."
" Pass friend, all's well."
All's well! The bugles were crying to the night
the long Last Post, the Plains reached away into immeasurable space, and I walked on through silence.
The grass was starry with frost, the heavens one
blaze of stars, but no lamp shone to guide me. Presently, standing on the trail, I heard the far-off bugles
softly crying, clear through the dark, the Regimental
Call, and two last long-drawn notes that said " Lights
And I turned again to my trail, with no lights to
guide me.
«Mi VI
BEFORE proceeding with the direct line of
my story, let me tell how at a later day,
having obtained permission from the dread
Commissioner, I rode with the great patrol.
In the days following our campaign of 1885, when
the Mounted Police numbered a thousand riders, a
patrol was sent once a week which passed a letter westward, from outpost to outpost, District to District,
until it had been carried from Manitoba to the Rocky
The trail followed a ridge which separates the
rivers for Hudson's Bay from the waters which flow
south to the Gulf of Mexico. It ran midway between
the United States boundary and the Canadian Pacific
Railway, and the riders were able from the high
ground to observe a vast scope of country, that they
might watch for smugglers, horse-thieves, strayed
cattle, or wandering Indians, make the game laws a
[78]    I." o: THE   GREAT   PATROL
fact, or turn out the settlements to fight a prairie
The Thousand-Mile Patrol consisted of one trooper,
but if he had to sleep before he could reach a house,
a second man attended with wagon or pack-horse to
carry camp equipment. No lone rider is allowed out
beyond a day's march, lest, meeting with some accident, he perish miserably upon the Plains before he
has been missed. My old chum, Reddy Herron, was
still spoken of in low tones in the days when I rode
with the patrol. A capable man, well mounted, with
food in his saddle-wallets, he had been sent out alone
in the spring. The sun glare from the white drifts
caught his eyes, and he went blind. He must have
dismounted, they say, and the horse, frightened by his
groping with outstretched arms, broke away, leaving
him alone.   He had his revolver left to him.
At a winter camp of cowboys less than a mile away
his shot was heard when he fired, his teeth clenched
on the muzzle.   There was no other way.
Then there was Sergeant Parker, who got lost in
winter somewhere on the Milk River Ridge, where a
blizzard had wiped out the trail. For seven days he
kept in the saddle, his brain chilled, his body warmed
by fever, his mind in exalted delirium seeing wonders
and marvels beyond telling, until, with slow degeneration of the tissues, he sank at last to the ground in the
deep sleep. The horse, badly swollen by the pressure
of the girth, had made a living scratching out grass
under the snow, and when his master fell remained beside him. He had scratched out a grass hole all round
the man, leaving him perched on a sharp ridge of
snow, when, looking up, he saw travelers in the distance. He ran to the sleigh, appealing with almost
human entreaties until they followed him to his master's side.    The man was saved.
If there is peril both in winter and summer for a
lone rider, one goes with a quiet mind in company.
Indeed, after a week at Regina, abed with pleurisy
and ulcerated jaws, I was mighty glad to escape in
the saddle to the open Plains. Maladies are sedentary demons which may sit on a man ir bed, or track
him when he ventures out on foot, but cannot overtake a decent horse.
We traveled slowly on the big patrol over Wood
Mountain, the Cypress Hills, the Milk River Ridge,
seven hundred miles between drinks, for there was
not enough settlement on the way to support one
! I       [80] - § I
liquor dealer. We averaged thirty-four miles a day,
with leisure for a sleep in the noon heat, a swim in the
creeks, and long delicious evenings by our campfires.
As for Mr. Blank, special correspondent, expected
with displeasure by five Troops, the boys at the outposts would often ask me when that brute was coming,
and who was he, anyway, to be granted a special
patrol like a blooming Viceroy ? I would describe that
gentleman as far astern, delayed by his enormous
obesity, a sluggish personage, peevish, stingy, important, useless, a burden on the trail, a nuisance to the
detachments. I was only a buck Policeman, a man
from the next Troop, on duty as the traveler's servant, living my boyhood again, taking the old delight
in the old Frontier, but now with a clearer vision, an
older head, a bigger heart, and broader sympathies.
Keep it a secret from the Government, don't tell the
officers, that a young female came with us all the way,
an unofficial person, far from respectable, most reprehensible indeed, an angel with iridescent pinions,
weaving spells of magic, a spirit who changed this
mere policeman's beat into a field of flowers fenced by
the azure sky. She led the boys on duty, at home on
the lone trail, delighting in their camps, making pets
1 [ 81 ]       I 1 FOLLOWING   THE   FRONTIER
of their horses, flavoring hard fare, mending broken
hearts—and her dear name is Romance. The boys,
bless 'em, were much too stupid to see even when her
gay wings brushed their eyelids, but I saw.
No doubt I am quite crazy, who for years had seen
the Western United States given over to robbery-
under-arms, cheating and butchery of Indians, dueling, lynching, train-wrecking, dynamiting of blacklegs, and other cheerful and hearty forms of outdoor
exercise—and here was a wilder country where men
rode unarmed.
Were our Canadian frontiersmen of a milder type?
Why, these fellows would ride all day for the Government, then all night for a bottle of whisky, and spent
the whole of their leisure devising devilments, yet by
the trickery of an oath and a uniform, Romance had
created the frailest of them into perfect constables of
the peace. So by her sly enchantments she inspires
men just as frail to be magistrates, governors, priests,
and kings; and my knees have given way before the
official scrutiny of a Policeman who last night in his
private capacity lay drunk. Considering the condition of the Western States, what else than witchcraft,
has saved our several British  frontiers from total
anarchy? Only the subtle conjuring of Romance
could have changed the untamable man into a constable, and put all the wolves on duty to guard the
" Don't you see her ? " I cried.
" You're off your chump," said the wolves.
They rode to every house, asking the sheep if there
were " any complaints." They had the powers of
the Russian secret police, the right of search, authority to kill, and yet were welcome guests.
The settlers gravely consulted these impudent
young devils on points of law, the mending of a churn,
the baby's teething, the symptoms of appendicitis,
and they never even grinned. At their detachments,
a string of lonely log-houses, they gave free hospitality to all comers, relieved suffering travelers, set a
matronly example in clean housekeeping, and they
made impartial love to every girl they saw.
They never would take me quite seriously. One
night I was rewarded for cooking a dish of curry with
the gift of a photograph, and stern demands for
praise. I observed that the hat was all right, the
coat beautiful, and everything lovely if only the face
were omitted.    Whereat the donor let fly at me with
the curry, the joint, the loaf, and most of the furniture, then challenged me to a duel, the weapons to be
cannon loaded with buffalo-horns, and finally lent me
his horse for the next day, a compliment he would
have denied his brother.
Another man allowed me to ride the Kelly gray,
who had traveled six thousand miles in the previous
year, which is a world's record. The next pet horse
bucked me off before breakfast, and bolted five times
afterwards, all for pure love of the sunshine. Afterwards in D Troop I had the famous 414, a superb
charger who grabbed the seat of my breeches whenever I tried to mount, and for a fortnight greeted me
of a morning by knocking off my hat. Him I took to
Calgary, the first town he had seen in all his seventeen
years. At the sight of a baby-carriage he went flat,
all four legs a-straddle; and as to the main street he
could only express his feelings by side jumps across
the roadway, so large was every house, so apt to
reach out and bite. The policemen who had four feet
were naturally twice as merry as those who had only
I lack space for detail of our camps and marches
as we crossed the Plains, and have no skill to describe
Ie   [84] THE   GREAT   PATROL
the ineffable majesty of that tawny field, with the blue
sky above wherein the cloud-herds pasture. The most
abandoned hell-rake becomes awed in time by the dread
solemnity of that wilderness, so that the sunlight finds
the springs of a hidden religion, and the waters of life
sparkle at the discovery. For him who has eyes and
ears the stones are crying out, the hills are speaking
of History engraved upon the land, the story of the
great Ice Age, the tale of the mammoth herds and
their wild hunters, the romance of Indian times before
there were any horses, and the scouts built cairns to
guide their tribes from hill to hill for hundreds of
miles along the watered routes. We were able to decipher, as we rode, the story of vast bison herds and
their migrations, to find the circles of stones which
weighted long-vanished tents, and read comedies on
many a rock-face painted with advertisements of old
Indian raids. Listen to the sorrowful story of the
Seven Thieves.
A party of seven Blackfoot warriors had been into
Montana stealing horses, and on their triumphant
return stopped to depict their raid at the Writing-
on-Stone beside Milk River. A lodge to represent
their numbers, so many horses to show what a lot they
S        [ 85 ] f ■•y
had stolen from the Gros Ventre nation, heads
turned towards home, tails up to express contempt, then a few sketchy | suns" told of their
days on the trail, and all men might read the
story of what they had done. They advertised too
much, they stayed too long, for their scalps are in the
tepees of the Gros Ventres, their bones are neatly arranged On top of the rock, their souls—address the
Happy Hunting Grounds.
To the blind there is only darkness, but to a man
with eyes the prairie is alive with all sorts of little
people in fur hair and feathers, from the absurd
little owls who openly protest against passing horsemen, to the coyote wolf upon his moonlit hill, bewailing the infrequency of supper.
The trail itself may be read like an open book, inscribed with a record in the dust of the men who have
passed since the last rain—Indians, Police, cowboys,
pioneers. As we rode we were always reading the
signs, and after we laid down our blankets under the
stars we would talk sometimes, wondering if we, the
forerunners, would be remembered when the trails
had enlarged into roads, and given place to steel rails.
We knew that the worst lands upon these plains had
been tested, and given forty bushels of wheat to the
acre. The wheat fields are spreading from the east,
and when they cover the prairies our Great Lone Land
will be a thing of history. Our outposts by the Moose
Pound, and Battle Creek, and Many Berries, Pend
Oreille, the Writing-on-Stone, Whoopup, Standoff,
Slideout, the Leavings, will all be cities then, our
Districts sovereign states, and a nation of forty
million people will send their senators to represent the
Plains at Westminster.
The patrol was nearing the end of the field, and
already its fence, the Rocky Mountains, had lifted
above the sky-line like a throng of white angels kneeling upon the edge of the world. Porthos was driving
the wagon, while Athos and I scouted to find him a
route through chaos. " A man," said Athos, " who
trots on ground like this deserves to be killed. Look
at the badger holes! Remember Monty? Thrown,
and the horn of the saddle went through his stomach.
It's sure death to lope. Tchik! " and away we went
at full gallop.
We camped that night in Lonely Valley, and woke
early because of the frost, grubbing like badgers to
get deeper down into the warmth. Then I felt more
I [87] I 1
blankets thrown on my shivering body, and two sleeps
are better than one. I had barely rolled over and
changed dreams when Porthos yelled:
" Grub pile! Show a leg there, you fellows! here's
breakfast getting cold, and I've been shivering myself
into a beastly sweat! "
I met d'Artagnan a few days later. Once he and
I sat on a log beside a cabin, when a man came up to
talk on a plunging horse. The animal backed at us
and lashed out at the log wall, at which I moved, but
d'Artagnan, rather amused, sat with a grave smile
kicking back at the horse until the brute took to
Such are the D Troop riders, but the teamsters are,
perhaps, the mightest drivers in North America. The
Earl and Countess of Aberdeen, on their viceregal
tour, were in the charge of a D Troop teamster, and
got stuck in a river because the near wheeler, a fool
mare, lay down to drown herself. Passing the reins to
the Viceroy, the teamster swam round that mare, trying to rouse her, but she was unconscious, and the
flood had nearly overturned the wagon. Then the
teamster climbed in his seat for a better purchase, and
made his three remaining horses drag the drowned
mare, wagon and all, right through the swimming
and up the bank to safety.
When the big patrol had come to an end at Fort
Macleod, I set out again on a five-hundred-mile
scamper around the flanks of the Rockies, still being a
guest of the regiment, and busy threading together
the story of a tragedy which was then in all men's
minds.   Here is the story:
Dawn was breaking of a summer's day in 1896,
when Green-Grass-growing-in-the-Water, a Red Indian scout, came trotting into Fort Macleod with a
dispatch from Standoff for Superintendent Steele.
He brought news that the body of a Blood warrior, Medicine-Pipe-Stem, shot through the skull,
and three weeks dead, had been found in an empty
The Blood tribe knew how Bad-Young-Man,
familiar to the whites as Charcoal, had three weeks
since come home from a hunting trip, to his little
cabin, where his wife, the Marmot, lived. He had
found his wife in the arms of Medicine-Pipe-Stem,
and by his warrior's right to defend his own honor
had shot the intruder down. Charcoal had done
justice, and the tribe was ready to take his part, what-
ever the Agent might say, or the Mounted Police
might do for the white man's law.
A week had passed of close inquiry, when one of the
scouts rode up to the ration house where the people
were drawing their supplies of beef, and gave warning
that Charcoal was betrayed to the Mounted Police.
Charcoal demanded the name of his betrayer, and
learned that Mr. Wilson, the Agent, was his enemy.
That evening Charcoal waited outside the Agent's
house, watching the lighted windows, where on the
yellow blinds there were passing shadows cast by the
lamp within as various members of the household
went about their business. At last he saw Mr. Wilson's shadow on the blind, fired, and shot the Agent
through the thigh. The household covered their
lamps, closed the shutters, sent for help, and hid the
wounded man on a couch behind the front door, well
out of range from the windows. Next morning in
broad daylight Charcoal went up to the house with a
rifle to finish Wilson, walked in, and looked about him,
but failed to discover his victim behind the open door.
He turned away and rode for the hills, and the
Mounted Police, turned out for the pursuit, were misled by a hundred rumors.
1 [90]
D Troop at the time numbered one hundred and
seventy men, led by Colonel S. B. Steele, the most distinguished of all Canadian frontiersmen. After he
had posted men to guard all passes through the Rocky
Mountains, he had a district about ninety miles square,
combed over incessantly by strong patrols, so that
Charcoal's escape seemed nearly impossible. The
district, however, was one of foothills, bush, winding
gorges, tracts of bowlders, and to the eastward prairie,
where the whole Blood and Piegan tribes were using
every subtlety of Indian craft to hide the fugitive.
Inspector Jervis with twenty Police and some scouts
had been seventy hours in the saddle, and camped at
Big Bend exhausted, when a rider came flying in reporting Charcoal as seen at Kootenai. The white men
rallied for the twenty-eight-mile march, but the Indians lay and were kicked, done for, refusing to move.
The white men scrambled to their saddles, and reeled
off upon the trail, unconquerable.
One day a Mormon settler brought news to Mr.
Jervis, for while cutting fence-rails he had seen Charcoal creep out from the bush and make off with his
coat. So this Mormon led them to a little meadow
where they found and surrounded a tent.    Then Mr.
Jervis took two men and pulled aside the door,
while they covered the place with their revolvers. Two
Mormons were brought out, shaking with fright, from
the tent.
Further on in the gray dawn they came to another
clearing, and a second tent, which they surrounded.
Some noise disturbed the Marmot, who crept sleepy
to the door, looked out, then with a scream warned
her husband. Charcoal slashed with his knife through
the back of the tent, crept into the bush, and thence
fired, his bullet knocking the cap from the officer's
head; but a volley failed to reach him. The tent was
Charcoal's winter quarters, stored with a carcass of
beef, five sacks of flour, bacon, sugar, and deerskin
for his shoes, and there the Marmot was taken, with
a grown daughter, and a little son called Running-
Bear, aged eight.
So far in many weeks of the hunt Charcoal had
his loyal wife to ride with him, and they used to follow
the Police patrols in order to be sure of rest when
the pursuers camped. Two Police horses, left half
dead, were taken up and ridden by this couple an extra
forty miles. An officer and a buck were feeding at
Boundary   Creek  Detachment  when   Mr.   and Mrs.
i    [92] THE   GREAT   PATROL
Charcoal stole their chargers out of the stable. But
now Charcoal had to face the awful prospect of a
lone fight, and with the loss of his family fell into
blind despair. Then all his kinsfolk were arrested, to
the number of thirty-seven, and lodged in prison.
Since his raid on the horses at Boundary Creek, all
Police Stables were locked, and visited frequently at
night. Corporal Armour, at Lee's Creek, came out
swinging his lantern, sniffing at the night, bound for
the stable, when he saw a sudden blaze revealing an
Indian face behind the horse trough, while a bullet
whisked through his sleeve. He bolted for the house,
grabbed his gun, and returned only to hear a horse
galloping aWay into the night. Charcoal for once
had failed to get a remount, and was grieved at having
fired upon a man he greatly liked. Always there was
that feeling, for the warriors of the Blackfoot nation
have learned to like the Police, to reverence their justice, and some of the older non-commissioned officers
are almost worshiped.
Wilde, for instance, was universally loved by the
tribes. The same feeling caused his old regiment,
the Blues, at Windsor, to beg for Black Prince, his
charger, after his death, and sent the whole body of
[ 93 ] I
mm IT
the Northwest Mounted Police into mourning when
he fell.
Tradition made him a great aristocrat under an
assumed name, and I remember well how we recruits
in the olden times were impressed by his unusual physical beauty, his stature, horsemanship, and singular
personal distinction. Constable Ambrose attended him
when he rode out for the last time on Black Prince,
followed by an interpreter and a body of Indian
scouts. They were in deep snow on a plain where
there stands a line of bowlders, gigantic rocks, the subject of weird legends among the tribes. Far off
against the sky an Indian was seen riding fast, who
swerved at the sight of the pursuit, and was recognised for Charcoal. Wilde ordered Ambrose to gallop the twenty miles to Pincher Creek, turn the people
out in the Queen's name, send a dispatch to Macleod,
and return at once. The Indians tried for Charcoal
at long range, but their new rifles were clogged with
factory grease, hard frozen, so that the pin failed
of its impact, and they all missed fire. Wilde's great
horse was drawing ahead of the ponies, and he called
" Don't fire, or you'll hit me by mistake."
1 1   [94] Oi THE   GREAT   PATROL
As he overtook Charcoal he drew his revolver, the
orders being to fire at sight, then laid the weapon
before him, wanting, for the sake of a great tradition, to make the usual arrest, the taking of live outlaws by hand. Charcoal's rifle lay across the saddle,
and he held the reins Indian fashion with the right
hand, but when Wilde grabbed at his shoulder he
swerved, touching the trigger with his left. The
bullet went through Wilde's body, then, deflecting on
the bone of the right arm, traversed the forearm, came
out of the palm, and dropped into his gauntlet, where
it was found.
Wilde rolled slowly from the saddle, while Black
Prince went on, and Charcoal also; but then the outlaw turned, galloped back, and fired straight downwards into the dying man. Black Prince had stopped
at a little distance, snorting, and when the Indian came
grabbing at his loose rein, he struck with his forefeet
in rage at his master's murderer. Charcoal had fired
to disable Wilde as the only way left him of escaping
" slavery "; now he had to conquer the dead man's
horse to make his escape from the trackers.
Some three weeks ago Charcoal's brothers, Left
Hand and Bear Paw, had been •released from jail with
[ 95 ] I "**********■
the offer of two hundred dollars from the Government,
and fifty dollars from the officer commanding, if they
could capture the outlaw. The tribes had decided that
Charcoal's body belonged of right to the Police, and
after Wilde's death he could expect no mercy on earth,
no help or succor from any living man. From the
slaying, like a wounded beast to his lair, he rode
direct for home, came to the little cabin, tied Black
Prince to a bush, and staggered towards the door.
Out from the house came Left Hand, who ran
towards him, while the outlaw, moved by some brute
instinct, fled for the horse. But Left Hand, overtaking his brother, threw his arms about him, kissing
him upon both cheeks, and Bear Paw, following, cast
his rope over the helpless man, throwing him down
a prisoner. The brothers carried Charcoal into the
cabin, pitched him down in a corner, then Left Hand
rode for the Police, while Bear Paw stayed on guard.
It was Sergeant Macleod who came first to the cabin
where Bear Paw squatted waiting, and Charcoal lay,
to all appearance dead, in a pool of blood upon the
earthen floor. He had found a cobbler's awl, used
in mending skin shoes, and opened the arteries of his
arm, that he might take refuge from treachery in
death.    From ankle to groin   his legs were skinned
with incessant riding, and never again was he able
to stand upon his feet.
For four months Charcoal had been hunted as an
enemy by D Troop, now for a like time he was nursed
in the guard-room at Fort Macleod, and though he
lay chained to the floor in mortal pain, his brothers of
the guard did their best. As he had been terrible in
the field, so this poor hero was brave in suffering,
humble, and of so sweet a disposition that he won all
men's hearts. Once he choked himself with a blanket,
once poisoned himself with a month's collection of
cigarette stubs, each time nearly achieving his purpose, but he never flinched, never gave utterance even
to a sigh, except for the moaning in his sleep.
At the trial his counsel called no witnesses, but read
the man's own defense, a document so sad, so wonderfully beautiful in expression, that the court appealed to the Crown for mercy, where mercy had
become impossible.
When he was taken out to die, the Troop was on
guard surrounding the barracks, the whole of the
tribes being assembled outside the fence. The prisoner sat in a wagon, face to face with the executioner,
[97]  VII
i Sa reward for getting frozen the Canadian
/ ^k Government gave me a liberal pension, and a
r lk berth in the Civil Service; but some months
of rest at home, followed by a year of work at Ottawa,
brought on my old complaint—a longing for trouble.
My wound was now healed; I had published a scandalously bad volume of stories and lyrics; and, as a
candle draws a moth, the Frontier was calling me
back. Some fool has noticed that a rolling stone
gathers no moss. Why should it ? I have never observed any moss on stones of value, or seen a mossy
stone which was not rotten.
With not a single regret I turned my back once
more on civilization, preferring the ways and trails
of the Lost Legion. At the mature age of twenty-
two one takes one's self in deadly earnest, and I had
some vague idea of riding along the Rocky Mountains from Canada to the City of* Mexico. In that
'   ' I   [99]        ■      I     ■ FOLLOWING   THE   FRONTIER
I succeeded long years afterwards, but for the time,
having no money, I planned to earn my living on the
way. So, proceeding by rail to British Columbia, I
alighted at Kamloops, where I rigged myself out as
a peddler, and traded with an Indian for a horse.
In the innocence of my young heart I paid a Winchester rifle, a suit of clothes, and ten dollars, getting
in exchange a beautiful buckskin gelding, famous—
I found out all that afterwards—as a man-slayer.
He tried to kill me twice before I started, but that was
only by way of experiment, and he reserved the subtleties of his business until we reached the summit of a
mountain-pass some sixteen miles from town. I had a
dim misgiving as to the clncha (girth), and got off to
see; when, filling his barrel with wind, he marked my
cinching with an evil eye. As I mounted he broke
off at a full gallop down a pile of rocks, drew in his
ribs, and bucked off the saddle. I remember seeing
my right arm break at the elbow, and trail off at right
angles on the rocks, but felt nothing whatever. My
horse got snarled up in the coils of the picket rope, so
had to wait in a field vert, seme with babies' bibs,
cigars, mouth-organs, and patent medicines, until I
woke up and attended to him.    We had an argument
[ioo]     ■ 1    1 THE  TRAIL  OF  THE  JOURNALIST
then which lasted twenty minutes, while the day faded,
and a storm breathed violet lightning in the west.
Using my left hand, I cut the rope, cleared the
horse, and made fast again to the neck-loop, ready to
lead; all of which he observed with an evil smile. Then
he ran in circles, coiling the slack of the rope thrice
round my legs, before I saw his game and jumped
clear. At that he started off in the dead run, drawing the full length of the rope through my left hand
because I refused to let go; he spoiled my left hand.
Since there was no special reason for remaining in
a field sprinkled with babies' bibs and mouth-organs,
I set off down the road in search of a ranch. On
one side went an arm which weighed like a hundred-
ton gun, on the other side a hand leaving plentiful
tracks of blood; and in my head the multiplication
table mixed up with the Rule of the Road at Sea
and the Church Catechism. After the end of the
catechism, I came to an optical illusion which looked
like a small tent by the wayside. It was a tent, and
out of it I hoisted a Swedish road repairer. To him
I talked monotonously, telling him things to keep my
brain at work, while he—objecting still—led me down
a corkscrew trail which I mistook for the back of a
i [ioi] JI
rattlesnake. A mile or so down, at the tip of its tail,
there were barking dogs. I remember a front door,
and a room with a large table which got in the way
while I walked round it with clattering spurs. Then
I dropped, and that was the end of the expedition to
Some two months afterwards I was lying in hospital
at Kamloops, of little use to myself or anyone else,
when news came of war on the Skeena, and up went my
tail. Somebody wrote me out a telegram, and the
answer came at once from a Montreal paper: | Yes;
to the extent of a hundred dollars."
Mightily pleased at being a War Correspondent,
even to the extent of a hundred dollars, I inquired my
way to the Skeena; but nobody knew where the place
was, until an old map was dug up which had it
marked in dotted lines as a river about a thousand
miles to the northward. So I took train to the Pacific
Coast, and at Victoria found a steamer going northward. She was called the Cariboo Fly, and there
never was a grimier little vagrant. She dreamed her
days away in the exquisite channels, camped every
night in some lovely bay, or, when we' were bored, gave
us a birthday party.
On Sunday, while we waited for a tide, sailors and
passengers, firemen, officers and all, landed for a picnic in the forest. There mighty pines shot up three
hundred feet from the mysterious twilight of the
aisles. The deer came sniffing curiously, canaries
fluttered round us, and humming-birds flashed by like
living gems. Sheer from the headlands, down through
clear emerald sea, one saw the seaweed forests; and
the Cariboo Fly, which was never known to hurry,
seemed afloat in translucent space rather than water.
Then through the summer days we lay on deck,
broaching cases of fruit from the cargo, and saved
ripe peaches from lapsing to moldy pulp. Why,
little puppies might ripen to old dogs for all the
Fly cared, so long as she were not bustled!
Whales by the score were feasting on cuttlefish in
the sounds, and the young whales playing about them
would try to blow tall fountains of spray like their
sires. A great white-tipped eagle resting on the air,
gulls and innumerable sea-fowl, porpoises making
game of our sloth with pretended racing—always
some blithe wild life attended us. In the narrower
channels the Fly, with frantic spurt and shrieking
whistle, would vainly pursue the reindeer as they swam
from isle to isle. And at night in the waters beneath,
revealed in blue-white clouds of phosphorescence, we
saw the dog-fish, those were-wolves of the sea—at
their ghastly dances.
And nothing worried us as the Fly drifted casually
through that majestic Archipelago, to leave decayed
fruit at some forlorn trading post, sheet tin at the
salmon canneries on lonely fjords, or trifling parcels
with a waiting skiff.
We threaded abysmal chasms, where cataracts
leaped white from the mountain-tops, to be lost in a
belt of clouds, and roll gray to the tide beneath. And
so through sheets of rain into the grim jaws of the
Skeena Inlet, and landed among the stinks of Spuk-
In a region so steeply walled that there are very
few landing-places except for goats, and where missions and salmon canneries get wiped out by occasional
avalanches, Spukshuat had just enough space to be
a quagmire. That is why the people, stray whites,
half-breeds, and many Indians, were full of sinful
pride, and, though there was only a trading post and
a cannery, the place had two names, assuming the
style  of  Port Essington.    A battery  of  Canadian
Artillery was in camp close by, unable to reach the
seat of war up the Skeena; firstly because there was
no war, and secondly because the only possible transport was by dugout canoes unable to carry guns.
A hundred and fifty miles up the Skeena River
dwelt an Indian nation called the Gaetkshian, who
had never heard of the Canadian Government. They
observed that the whites—there were twenty-five in a
region as big as Germany—were only a small tribe,
with a taste for preaching and shop-keeping. They
believed in the Hudson's Bay Company.
Now the Company had a house called Hazelton at
the Forks of the Skeena, and the gentleman in charge
took to evil courses. He sold measles to the Gaetk-
shians, mixed up with his brown sugar, of which two
hundred and forty people died. No white people
died. I have this on the authority of the native doctors, who knew about it, and advised their laity, just
by way of reasonable precaution, to massacre all the
Of course the whites are accustomed to' that sort
of thing, and in savage countries would get quite
uneasy if they heard no rumors of their impending
massacre.    They would think  there  must  be some
plot. But then came the lamentable tragedy of
Gaetwinlthgul Jim. He was an extremely nice man,
with a shrew to wife. They had two little children
who tramped with them long days through the sopping snow, attended a fever-stricken debauch in their
wet clothes, and died of measles. Jim had no grudge
against the whites, but Mrs. Jim happened to be the
heiress of Nealth, the family doctor. Jim went and
shot the doctor.
After this proper and reasonable act, Jim paid off
the doctor's relations—came down very handsomely
with a copper shield charged with the tribal arms, a
bale of blankets, and some guns, all of which he
pitched down a hill to quench the grief of the
mourners.    The mourners were comforted.
But then he was annoyed by the needless interference of five white constables sent nearly eight hundred miles to arrest him. He and Mrs. Jim fortified
themselves in a house at the hill village of Gaetwinlthgul, declared war against the whites, and threatened
death to all who molested their peace. They had fulfilled the law, the real tribal law.
All might still have gone well but for two things:
the shrew would worry Jim, and the Indian agent on
the coast sent him a letter advising surrender. He
could not read the letter, nobody could, but it seemed
to be some sort of passport. So to get away from
being nagged, Jim went off peaceably and made love
to a lively widow down at Gaetwangak on the river.
There he was captured by a constable, and naturally
thought there must be some mistake. He bolted, and
the white man shot him.
Of course the whole nation was furious at this outrage ; moreover, the Gaetkshians and the neighboring
Nishgars numbered a thousand rifles, all good shots.
They demonstrated, and twenty-seven special constables in a mortal funk came up the river to build
a fort of refuge at Hazleton. Then the Indians were
horrified. What did it mean ? Were the whites going
to break out? Happily Captain Fitz-Stubbs, whom
they all knew and liked, came up the river just then,
alone, unarmed, and told the Indians not to make fools
of themselves. A battery of artillery was down at
the river mouth, and a warship lay in the tide which
could eat them all at one gulp. They promised to
be good until these clouds rolled by, but next winter
they would play the very deuce. Jim had been murdered by the whites, and his tribe was bound to avenge
I        [io7]      m
■**■**'     I *~^*tfl*~~~Bl
him at the scene of the crime at Gaetwangak on the
river. They were going to kill a missionary, and
would await the return of the incumbent of Gaetwangak.
Now the missionary incumbent of Gaetwangak was
newly married, and did not want his wife to be a
widow, so he very wisely accepted another parish.
The Synod of the Missions scratched their ears,
and prayed for a nice young locum tenens to winter at Gaetwangak. The laity of the coast were
all very secular both in manners and conversation,
neither would it do to import any unwary young tenderfoot from Home. Something was wanted for an
incumbent not liable to overexcite the parish by getting martyred. I wanted, for my editor, to get an
accurate report of the Skeena troubles. The Synod
appointed me to Gaetwangak.
Meanwhile I was not expected there until November,
so Jim's friends and relations had to exercise the
Christian grace of patience. I was down at the mouth
of the river, cloyed with the fragrance of Spukshuat,
but having a lovely time with C Battery. We borrowed a steam-launch, explored an uncharted fjord,
and discovered an enormous cataract which came down
from a navigable river. Where that river came from
nobody knew, but it was as big as the Thames at
Like a sitting hen with no eggs is a war correspondent restive without any war to distort. And
my editor had suggested that, being in the neighborhood, I might just as well report on the Behring
Sea Question. I was no more bothered than he by
trifling points of geography. Behring Sea was only
two thousand miles distant, and I still had fifty bright
dollars, enough for a gorgeous autumn on lines
of the strictest economy. I set out by canoe for
The dugout canoe of the northern tribes is no
clumsy log scooped hollow. It is indeed hewn from
the trunk of a giant cedar, but the shell is less than
an inch in thickness. When the hull is finished it is
filled with water, and the water boiled by throwing
in red-hot stones. The beams being set in position,
the gunwale shrinks against them in cooling, and
the lofty carved prow and stern-piece complete lines
of most delicate beauty. The usual size is that of a
Venetian gondola, with a beam of five and a half feet.
a length of thirty feet, a ballast of three tons, and
[109] I
crew of five men. The steering is done with a large
oar, and two pole-masts are carried with trysails,
A family of the Hydah tribe took me to sea as a
passenger, and their vessel, winged out, running on
the swell of the open Pacific, was the loveliest sea-
creature I have ever known. Making the Alaskan
coast, we threaded a maze of channels, camping in
little bays, where we feasted on fresh venison,—like
rubber tires boiled,—on freshly speared salmon, seaweed salads, clams, mussels, and ripe wild fruit, all
cleanly cooked and served by the women round a blazing fire. After these evening banquets we would go
on by starlight, gliding in phosphorescent seas of
pale-blue flame, until we reached our camp-ground
for the night.
These Hydahs of the Queen Charlotte Islands were
nearly white, and one of the men in other clothes
might readily have passed for an English sailor. In
old times the tribe were Vikings, masters of the
coast, a slave-holding aristocracy, skilled not only
in canoe- and house-building, but in sculpture,
heraldry, and other arts which they may have learned
from Japanese castaways.    Their carvings have been
mistaken for native work in Japan. Let me tell just
one of their legends.
A man went away to the hunting up Masset Inlet,
and left his young wife in the house alone. While
he was away she bore a child to him. And when he
came back by night, he stole into the dark house,
creeping softly to where she lay, lest he disturb her
in her sleep. He bent over her, looking down tenderly in her face, then in horror drew back. Another
head was nestled at her breast, he heard soft breathing
in response to hers, and felt the warmth from someone
else in the bed. Mad with anguish, he lifted up her
hand, the hand which he had taken to caress, and
bit it to the bone. She woke with a great cry, raised
herself on her knees, then to her feet, and held the
child before her, held it up to him. Why had he come,
she asked, like a dog to bite her while she lay nestling
the child in its first sleep? He muttered out his
doubts, his jealousy, his penitence, his love, and then
she understood.
She towered above him now, asked how he dared
insult her with his doubts, cursed him, cursed him in
the name of the Raven, and by the Terrors of the
Sea, made him a laughing-stock from generation to
[111] ill
generation forever; called on Him, the Raven, the
Omnipotent Creator, bade Him strike down, strike
this man, strike him and kill.
Then the Raven struck the man and made him to
be a laughing-stock forever, and turned him into a
stone by the rising tide upon the shore. But the
woman with her child ran down into the sea.
The people go along the shore deriding this man
who is turned to a stone, the craven who doubted, and
is a laughing-stock forever.
The waters of the rising tide lap the cold stone,
with broken-hearted murmuring, sorrow over him,
ever troubled, never resting, ever forgiving, chiding
in the measure of her sorrow, from generation unto
My voyage with the Hydahs ended at last at the
village founded by Mr. Duncan, a well-known missionary, who arranged that I should be neither fed nor
sheltered lest I corrupt the morals of his converts.
I insulted him most heartily in return, and took my
leave in a flat-bottomed boat with two Indians, just as
a big- storm broke. Now these canoe Indians hate a
boat, and when we got into bad water—my fault, of
course—they became discouraged—white man's busi-
ness, not theirs. So I woke from my beauty sleep to
find both men lying helpless upon their oars, while
half-swamped we drifted through total darkness to
destruction. " Would they be graciously pleased to
pull ? " 1 No," they said; " since we've got to die
anyway, why bother ? " With my boot I rebuked them
both, and when I had kicked them into a different
mind they began to cheer up. Still we were all nearly
drowned, and wholly exhausted, before, at the break
of day, we found more sheltered water in Tongass
There is a cannery at the Narrows, where I waited
a week for a steamer, and in the estuary of a creek
near by saw a run of the hump-backed salmon. To
reach fresh water they had to climb a cascade, at the
top of which it was easy to take the fish by hand,
grabbing behind the gills. Crowded into the approach to the cascade there were many thousands
waiting their turn for the jump, and because of the
dogfish attending in their rear they were closely
packed. I tried to row a dcry through that place, but
could get neither my oars into the water nor the boat
over the backs of the fish, while, attempting to break
away on either side, the creatures splashed me wet with
[113] 1
the lash of their dorsal fins. My host would gaff a
dozen every morning to select one fish for his dinner.
A seine towed into the beach and" mad'e fast to a couple
of trees dried out with the ebb, and was estimated to
contain two thousand five hundred hump-backed
salmon, with large numbers of the better varieties.
The bulk of them were left to rot, and the stench of
the whole place was beyond endurance.
From thence I wras liberated by an American tourist
steamer, five of whose glittering officers answered to
the title of Captain, while the personage in supreme
command held the rank of Commodore. My fellow-
passengers in the steerage consisted of gold-miners,
Chinamen, Indians, Kanakas, a grizzly bear, and a
steam-winch based within six inches of my nose as I
lay in a bunk like a hat-rack. That winch worked
usually all night, and our first seance was further enlivened by the lamentations of the bear, and the wailing of an Indian dame who had lost her purse. " He
stole my money! He go to jail at Junean, you bet
your gum boots! He stole my money! " Her chant
only ended with the dawn, when she found the money
in her pocket.
The tourists, dull dogs all, were writing books of
M [H4] I
travel, and the air flickered with their snapshot
photography, but not a soul of them stayed on deck
while we battered our way through pack ice into the
heart of the alps of St. Elias, and watched the embattled precipice of the Muir Glacier launch crashing
bergs in thunder through white surf. They spat and
talked dollars after their kind, while down in the
under-world of the steerage the Chinese coolies jabbered, the drunken Indian women shrieked like witches,
and the poor old bear moaned over bones in a corner.
After ten days of wonders and marvels I was glad
to escape the clatter, dirt, and flashy vulgarity of that
perfumed menagerie. I landed at Fort Tongass,
and paid my last five dollars to an elderly Indian lady
for a passage by canoe to Fort Simpson in British
Columbia. I had the honor of pulling the canoe myself, while the lady squatted in the stern-sheets making
violent love to a young man whom she had bought
for her husband.
From Fort Simpson the Hudson's Bay Company
gave me by courtesy a passage in one of their canoes
to Metlacahtla. On my arrival the Indian crew attempted to levy blackmail, so having led them to the
magistrate's house, I doubled back and got my bag-
gage secured. Then with the magistrate's aid I made
the Indians a " strong paper," which they readily accepted instead of cash.    It read as follows:   " Dear
L , these fellows tried blackmailing, kindly give
them Hell with my compliments, yours sincerely."
Stony broke, greatly refreshed, and in a peaceful
mood, I had now to report myself to the Diocesan
Synod of New Caledonia, as ready to proceed to the
Skeena and be a missionary among the unoffending
heathen. To my horror I was ordered to show my
paces by preaching in the cathedral (unconsecrated).
To preach a sermon!
I have been in many a deadly peril, but my blood
never ran so icy cold with fright as when I mounted
the steps of the pulpit. I remembered that I had
been a trooper, had acquired more than ordinary
cheek, and gave twenty minutes of offense to a congregation of serious Christian Indians. I told them that
the wages of sin is death, that the sin may consist of
dirt surrounding a salmon cannery, and that the death
takes the shape of pestilence. They concluded I was
no Christian.
Five men of my congregation had an ample vengeance when,   a few days  later,  I set off with them
for the mouth of the Skeena River. If their views
conflicted with mine, the canoe, said they, was " Hudson's Bay Company," I was only a passenger, and
not even a Christian, anyway, so I'd better shut up.
I did. We reached the Skeena Inlet, and for the next
ten days ensuing climbed up a long slope of river
with " riffles " at every bend. Sailing, poling, paddling, rowing, tracking, we fought that torrent daily
from dawn to night. At every vicious rapid the
helmsman would mention, in broken English, canoes
upset there and strong swimmers drowned.
Wet, shivering, lonesome, forced to sit in dignity
lest I show my incompetence as a canoe-man, nearly
addled with fright, I had but one idea left—to hide
my alarm. So in the desperate passage of a white
sluice I would revile the Indians for splashing me.
My rude words they understood, and merely deplored
them; but if ever a white man showed funk in danger,
why, what was the use of all his doctrines! They
never found me out, but thought I was a rummy variant from the usual type of parson. I doubt if it
ever quite stopped raining, but we did not always
roost in the drenched open on a bank of bowlders.
Usually the fire was built among big pines, with a
sail for our shelter set up on poles in front, and the
cooking was always perfect. After supper, wet to
the skin, and tired out, these young athletes sang
hymns with accuracy and power, the words all gone
funny, but the melody ringing gloriously clear.
Their one vice was a mania for prayer-meetings; and
sometimes, dawdling by the way in the smoke shed of
a native family under the maggot-dripping, putrid-
drying salmon cured for the winter's food, I would
lapse to open revolt against the unbounded loquacity
of their supplications. Then they knew I was no
good. They gave me an awful character to their
chums of the up-river tribes.
At last, passing by my station at Gaetwangak, we
came to Hazelton in the Forks of Skeena, where I
completed my outfitting at the Hudson's Bay House.
Seven gold-miners from the far-away Omenica were
wintering here in civilization, still removed by seven
hundred and fifty miles of impenetrable, almost unknown, wilderness from the nearest white man's town.
The last belated canoes were leaving for the sea, and
thereafter for six months we would only hear once
from the outer world—when the Hudson's Bay Company's carrier came in on snowshoes, loaded with the
midwinter mail. One day when we were sitting in
the store, all thinking hard while the Hudson's Bay
man worked at his accounts, I hazarded a question:
" How much does it cost to winter? "
" Two hundred dollars," said one miner.
" Two-fifty," corrected another.
Then the Company's man looked up from his
ledger. " All you've got," he chuckled; and the
proposition was carried unanimously.
That evening, after dinner at the Mission House,
one of these gentlemen came to the door and, standing outside, nervously reminded my hostess of her
remark last year that nuggets should make lovely
jewelry. " I thought you might fancy these," he
ventured, presenting her with three ingots of gold,
" for a brooch and earrings." So women are worshiped on the Frontier.
I was near the thin end of my credit when, with
six months' provisions in a canoe, I went down to live
at my station, thirty winding miles below the Forks.
It was clear after the first snow, and now that the
clouds were gone I saw the river was but a little channel lost among the foundations of tremendous ice-
clad mountains.     Twelve miles  below  Gaetwangak
[119]   I
lived an independent missionary with his household;
elsewhere, except at the Forks, there were no white
people, and the surrounding regions were marked on
the maps " unexplored."
Someone had been a coward before me at Gaetwangak, either afraid of pagan influence on his converts, or scared for his very life, because the Mission
was built two miles upstream from the village. It
was a comfort to know I was not the only person
scared, but surely I had little to rely on in the credulous young quarter-breed who served as my acting
interpreter for the first few weeks. He made rare fun
for the heathen, swallowing all that was told him of
our impending death, and with red-hot imagination
enlarged their tales to me. So it was in miserable
apprehension that I daily raided the village to tend
the sick, and round up my children for school. I
buried my revolver, and went unarmed; for indeed it
is beneath the white man's dignity to carry a weapon
as though he were frightened of attack. Besides, I
am a hopelessly bad shot.
Now Captain Fitz-Stubbs, as magistrate, had been
ordered to visit the tribes, making proclamation of
the British Peace vice the Indian Law demised. Last
of all he came to my village, camped at the school-
house, arranged for a council, and sent ah old woman
with a note inviting me to attend. He had just engaged a new interpreter, a vociferous expert at praying. This ingenious person came to tell us that the
tribe was waiting in the Chief's house. He had just
learned that Fitz-Stubbs and I were to be killed, so
he reported everything all right.
We found the tribe assembled in one of the great
cedar houses, a broad low-pitched barn proportioned
like a Greek temple, and fronted by a mast sculptured
from base to summit with the heraldic records of the
family. In the middle of the house, under the smoke
vent, burned a ceremonial fire of piled-up logs, but
the light of the flames fell far short of the shadowy
walls, and was only fitfully gleaming on the mighty
blackened rafters overhead. As our eyes widened to
the gloom, we could see the ruddy bronzed faces of
the people as they sat motionless, impassive, about
two hundred and fifty in number, round a big circle.
Behind a fire a chair and table were set in the Chief's
place, and there the magistrate sat down, his interpreter standing beside him. A soap box was
placed for me in front of the people on his right.
Captain Fitz-Stubbs spoke cheerfully about the
recent troubles, the frequent killing of men in the
valley, the stupidness of blood feuds, and the strength
of the white man's government, which now commanded their obedience on pain of inevitable punishment.
The Chief, Gillawa, responded, a young, powerful,
manly chap, frankly contemptuous. The Indian
law was good, he said, had lasted as long as the mountains. The white man's law was new, and weaker than
a baby. Let the white man go to the salt water, and
take his law with him.
The people were silent, the flame-light flickered
redly on their eyes. Their turn was come, two wThite
men were to die on the very scene where Gaetwinlthgul
Jim had been murdered. Still there was much talking by subchiefs and councilors. At last a young
man rose, who spoke at length, crouched down, creeping ever nearer to the magistrate, brandishing a long
knife with many a forward thrust of the fire-lit blade,
shouting, gesticulating, working up his fury for the
death stroke.
I was crouched like a cat, strung for the rush to
join Fitz-Stubbs, but still pretending to be at ease.
He knew that on his coolness depended the lives of all
our people in the valley—the women, the children.
" Why don't you strike ? " he said to the man with
the knife. " I'm an old man, my beard is white, I
haven't long to live; I am unarmed, at your mercy—
you bloody coward, you're afraid to strike!"
The Indian lowered the knife, collapsed into vague
threatenings, and was silent.
When at last we white men strolled out of the
house into the fresh keen dusk: " That's all right,"
said Fitz-Stubbs.
He ordered his men to the canoe. " Well," he said,
as we shook hands, " good-by. See you next month
at the Forks ? All right, we'll have a smoke then. So
And he left me, this man with the white man's
courage which I had still to learn.
Massacres at Nootka, Murderer's Bar, and Smith
Inlet, the then recent slaughter and burning of the
Seabird's crew, and many another tragedy of that
region, had taught the whites to be canny with these
people. The Skeena is not without its memories. In
1866, before the success of the Atlantic cable, an overland telegraph was planned from New York to St.
Petersburg by way of Behring Strait. From the
Fraser to the Skeena the line was finished, and in 1898
I found the old trail still cumbered with fallen wire.
The line itself was too mysterious a thing for any
savage to fool with, but a fort was built to guard
the stores at the Skeena terminal, and a man was left
on guard through the winter months. Over a thousand miles of that iron thread, the lonely operator
would talk with his chum on the Fraser; and when
the Kispyox tribe attacked his block-house, the messages became of acutest interest. For six months the
fort was held, but at last, by aid of an Indian girl, the
garrison escaped by night in a canoe. Looking back,
he saw the block-house burst into flames.
Once, Mr. Hankin, the trader, was coming up the
river in a canoe, and his Indians landing at Kitze-
gucla set fire to the village by accident. On the
trader's return the Kitzeguclas hauled him out of his
canoe, and bade him prepare for death.
" With pleasure," said he, " but will you first oblige
by standing aside. I really must write a line to Mrs.
Hankin or she will be getting quite anxious."
While he wrote, and he did not hurry, the tribe
cooled off.    To the savage mind there is something
mysterious and awful in English coolness. Indeed,
a king's majesty hedges the white man among savages; but as the winter advanced, I often wondered
if my aura was quite bullet-proof. An old magician,
who had no love for me as a rival doctor, used to
stand on his house-roof daily predicting my death,
and scaring the children as they came to school. Attendance slackened, the elders fell away from the congregation. I would preach about " dogs barking in
the village," and send about the pictures of Her
Majesty's war-canoes which had shelled two villages
on the coast, and might look in on Gaetwangak if required.
At last in December the Gaetwinlthgul tribe came
down from the hills to kill me. My people came out
of the village to meet their visitors, hour after hour
the two tribes were face to face in line of battle among
the graves of the ancestors, talking me over. Why
they discussed so simple a matter I never knew. My
Indian interpreter had arrived from the coast by then,
so, dressed in a parson's clothes, a bowler hat, and a
Winchester rifle, he took command of the schoolhouse
garrison of Christians. This consisted of Lost Creek
Jim, Willie the Bear, and a half-witted youth
wreathed in permanent smiles, and they held the
schoolhouse all day long while the two tribes talked
and talked. The Gaetwinlthguls wanted an old gentleman called Niesh-cum-a-la, who had betrayed the
lamented Jim to the constables. He was away fishing,
and did not oblige. Then they demanded me. I was
away on snowshoes with an Indian packer, buying
their Christmas presents at the Forks, and never knew
I was wanted for six weeks afterwards. They trailed
away home, disheartened.
Thus ended a campaign of gunboats and artillery,
bastions for defense, special correspondents, popular
excitement, and every element of a successful war—
except fighting.
[126] VIII
DAY after day I watched the black tumultuous river making its hopeless fight against
the cold. The drops froze on the surface
into globules like little peas, which tumbled down the
current until they hit the bottom and stuck. Reefs of
these ice-globules grew up, barring the stream, and
making still ponds which glazed over every night.
By day the thin covering broke, to pile on the reefs,
while steadily the marginal ice crept out towards midstream. At last in late December a strong frost
caught the drift and the floating globules together,
and the Skeena became a field of black ice. On this
field a crop sprang up of fern-shaped crystals, shining like diamonds in the sunlight. Then deep snow
drifted over all.
I cannot guess how cold were the four months which
followed, because the mercury thermometer generally stayed frozen. So near were the mountains that
the sun never rose above them, but at noon would
[ 127 ] i:
shine through a cleft, giving me the time. Daily I
tramped on snowshoes down to the village, rang the
schoolhouse bell, gathered the grown scholars and the
children beside the red-hot stove, gave lessons in reading and writing and English, or made maps on the
blackboard to show them how the valley was planned,
the district, the province, the continent, and the world.
Afterwards there were visits to all the sick, and evening classes around my stove at the Mission. By public subscription we made the schoolhouse into a church,
and on Sundays—sometimes on Saturday or Monday
by mistake—we had matins, the reading, and the evensong. On Christmas Eve the congregation came to
the Mission garden, and sang carols with exquisite
clearness. Above them the moon hung low upon the
peaks, lanterns gleamed like gems along the pines,
and the snow was like a field of little stars. The faithful were fed that night, and on the morrow there was
a surprising feast for all-comers, of burned hash and
half-raw plum-pudding, with high revels afterwards
and a Christmas tree.
There was much to do. The heathen lived healthily in their well-ventilated barns of hewn cedar; but
the righteous must needs have stuffy little houses,
[ 128 ]
microbe traps to cultivate the phthisis which sent them
up to heaven in a hurry. They sacrificed much to
dress like missionaries, gave themselves airs and
graces among the heathen, and were needlessly uplifted because successive white men had been sent from
the outer spaces to learn their precious language. I
flatly declined to learn that wonderful dialect, because they had need of English and I no occasion for
Gaetkshian; wore gum boots or deerskin hunting-
dress in church to show that religion did not consist
of ugly garments; and discouraged the endless loquacity of their prayers as tending only to self-
righteousness. It did them good to be shocked, because a Mission has no need to be a ranch for raising prigs, and a Christian Indian ought not to be
distinguished from his fellows for unctuous rascality,
vanity, and gloom.
A man came whining for counsel, saying that his
neighbor had worried him. Of course the obvious answer was, " Go punch his head," but the doctrine
seemed to be quite a new one, heterodox, and a scandal
to the whole valley. Sometimes after that I shrank
from giving advice, and indeed one must 'ware traps
in the Mission field.   My own friend, Lost Creek Jim,
was in trouble when his tribe demanded of him the
custom that he hold a feast to his father's memory,
and there give away all he had among the parasites
of his native village. Was he exempt as a Christian,
or must he perform this pagan rite and be ruined?
" Jim," said I, " as a Christian man you're free,
but can you sneak out of being a gentleman ? " It
was as a pagan he became his father's heir. | Go and
be a heathen for two weeks, then come home, and you'll
find yourself a better Christian for the sacrifice."
So that savage gentleman went away for two weeks,
and came back beggared, his eyes shining. He never
talked much, but his wife made a fine sash and gave
it to me. She noticed that Jim and I had become like
It was not easy at twenty-three to know all about
everything; to be parson, school-teacher, and master
of the tribe. But the medical and surgical work was
specially awkward, and the big medicine book became
the bane of my life. The author must have been very
learned, so subtle and obscure were his thoughts, and
all his words beyond human understanding. He must
have lived in a chemist's shop, with all the drugs in
the world on surrounding shelves.
I wondered how he would heal a compound fracture, with his interpreter in hysterics, with moss, bed
linen, and firewood for appliances. Still the huge
book was a most impressive exhibit, and the child
got perfectly well in spite of me.
I was called to attend an old woman new stricken
with paralysis it seemed, half her body dead and the
other half not likely to be of much use. The mighty
book urged drugs which seemed on the whole intended
to stimulate. So I warmed up the lady's inside with
a few ounces of black and red pepper, chili, mustard,
curry-powder, and painkiller (a patent medicine), in
a tumbler of boiling brandy. She took it, smiling, and
perhaps from faith, or accidental mercury in the
" painkiller," the clot of blood in her brain was
urged to move on. Next day she was gathering
Much has been written about the natural savage
taste for firewater, but these Northwestern Indians
are possessed of a diseased craving for castor and cod-
liver oil, and will perjure their souls for a drink. One
buck Indian came to me in a terrible state of mind,
beyond reach of earthly aid save by castor-oil. He
had a mote dancing before his eyes these three weeks
[131]       1 FOLLOWING  THE   FRONTIER^
past, and I must rescue him even at the cost of a dose.
I made a mortal enemy by refusing.
And indeed I needed all I had for a young girl,
who, to judge by the book, had every single malady
named in its index except, perhaps, housemaid's knee.
One Sunday I had just been to see her, and was at
the schoolhouse preparing my interpreter for the
evening sermon, when the death-wail arose in the
village. Running to the place, I held up my hand
in the doorway, crying, " Peace be to this house!"
in a tone which silenced the row. The child still lived,
but I had no brandy with me, and failing that said
the Prayers of the Visitation while I felt her dying
in my arms. Hitherto the neat formulas of the
Prayer Book had seemed of little use, drifting away
on the wind, but now somehow the words went straight
upwards like smoke in still air. I felt her die in my
arms. The people were kneeling about us, and I
hushed the wailing of the women, making my interpreter pray. " Oh, Shimoigaet! Shimoigaet La-
hagh!" I was folding the dead hands over a still
heart. Then a voice loud and tremulous broke in on
the prayer. ¥ Shut up! " I said aloud, because of
all that was passing upwards in the still air; but then,
[ 132]
turning round, held my peace, astonished. Gillawa,
the Chief, knelt praying at her feet. I knew him to
be a good hunter, an honorable and fearless leader of
his people; had seen him, but a few weeks ago, defy
the whole Empire in frank rebellion. To capture this
pagan chief was to win the tribe, and he was brought
to his knees by the death of this child he had loved.
That evening as I walked beside the river, a mist
lifted softly from the ice, the gaunt peaks glowed
flame and violet in the afterglow, the lights of heaven
shone out one by one, and every moment revealed
still vaster distances of starry sky—it was the opening of the gates of Space. Only a scrub white man,
and something of a fool, I was given a whole tribe
in my grasp. These grave hunters were children to
lead, if I could find the way.
When I buried the child it was with full Christian
rites, for if she went without baptism that was my
fault, not hers, and I had made so many mistakes that
a little guilt more or less would not count.
Gillawa was leader of his people, afraid to leave
his trust by turning Christian. I wanted him, as the
best man in the tribe, to be chief, but with his conversion the chiefship would lapse to Tsimadeaks, the
father of the dead child. I could not spare him either,
and he told me in secret that he was a Christian. I
wanted him to be so openly. Could I get Tsimadeaks
to make a solemn renunciation of his rights to the
lapsing chief ship? Then Gillawa might come to me
as leader, and both Tsimadeaks and all the rest would
follow. I must go very delicately lest I set these two
men by the ears. I asked them both to dinner. It
was wonderful to see how these pure-blooded and untainted savages, who never in their lives had sat at a
table, behaved like guests in some London club, being
by instinct gentlemen. After dinner I made Tsimadeaks picture his heraldic sign on a paper, renouncing the chiefship; then persuaded Gillawa, as leader
of his people, to lead them the only right way. For
the rest of the winter both men came with their wives
and children to school. The classes and congregations grew week by week, the work was doubled, and
the fight was won.
The people let me know them better now, and they
were curiously like white folk under the skin. Sometimes tired of school, we would set the little ones playing their winter games, blindman's buff, tag, or puss-
in-the-corner, just the same as ours, but never were
r    ■ [134]     I    I THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   MISSIONARY
civilized children half so funny. There was a game
in which one side made imitations of the tribal beasts,
the bear, the wolverine, the whale, the beaver, and
the raven, while the other side paid forfeit if they
laughed. I think our youngsters would like that if
they tried it, and the elders joined in, as we did to
the very point of bursting. And sometimes the old
people would tell the tribal myths about the Deluge,
the Age of Fire, the times of the man-beasts their ancestors, of inter-tribal wars, and the white man's coming. It was a hundred years since first the white
man came, but the oral traditions are borne out to the
very details by the explorers' printed records.
These nations of the far Northwest are not Red
Indians, but Asiatics, with square heads and oblique
eyes. Canoe life has made them giants down to the
waist, tapering among the seaboard tribes to quite
inadequate legs. They are practical, industrious,
rather dirty, and very cheerful, with none of the delicacy, the dreamy mysticism of the red men. Still
they have their pride and their mysteries, for one little
boy waxed hostile and magnificent when I told him
to wash his face. Moreover, when in a sermon I
threatened to come down on Monday and clean the
I     I [135]   11
amm ■
village, Christian and pagan alike they were out for
war. I wanted a fight just then to relieve the monotony, so, bright and early on Monday, I marshaled
the faithful to the number of four, then marched on
the village armed with picks and shovels. Half-way
they lost heart, broke for the woods, but I could not
well draw back from my given word. Full of misgivings, my back to the loopholed walls of ominously
silent houses, I set to work, digging a military latrine
among the graves of the ancestors. Now this was a
sore point with the Gaetwangaks, that the ground
was rich in gold, an alluvial mine of the Bonanza type;
indeed one could dig up four dollars a day almost
anywhere upon the village land.
They had driven miners away by force of arms,
and rooting at their blessed ancestors felt rather like
digging my own grave. Still they never fired a shot.
Indeed, a little cold cheek is a better defense than
plate-armor; for by noon the faithful joined me
openly, watching my progress and giving advice;
and the old Women were busy as bees spring-cleaning
the village paths. By night the place was as slick as
a barrack, and the new sanitation was accepted as a
So the lonely days went by, and I found that
pedestal of all the virtues dull.
People often ask if Missions are any good—I think
ungenerously. The work is always disheartening,
not from wickedness in the teacher so much as from
the total failure of the savage. We cannot raise him
all of a sudden to the plane which we have only
reached through many centuries of upward growth.
He never attains the status of our manhood, the base
on which rests our Christianity; and our religion
yields but a sickly crop outside the boundaries of the
Caucasian field. Meanwhile the missionary, a good
man, and his wife, more useful than himself, preserve
the savage from death by contact with our civilization,
teach him all he can learn, heal his sickness, comfort
him in trouble, and keep him out of mischief when
otherwise he would be out on the war-path scalping
our scattered laity.
Even with no conversions a year the missionary,
loneliest of pioneers, remotest of frontiersmen, is a
living protest to Heaven that we whites are not wholly
ruthless towards the weaker brethren. If our gifts
to the heathen were limited to trade guns, gin, and
fancy diseases, not one of us would be able, when the
time came, to curl up and die without the most horrid
apprehensions. But with ever so little love the work
tells. On Easter Sunday I brought into church a few
young buttercups picked up from the skirts of the
snow. Afterwards, between the services, I lay on the
grass under the sunlight, very sleepy, listening to
the mountains, which now in full chorus of torrent
and avalanche thundered their great song of the
spring triumph. And when I rang the bell for evensong, all the little children came to me laden with
flowers.    These I laid upon the altar.
My work was done; but as my own endeavors fell
so far short of the ideal, in justice to the Missions I
must speak of better men who fought a greater fight
among the tribes of that region. Mr. Dash, for instance, being a missionary broken loose from his
church, and without any visible means of support, desired to work among the heathen, paying his own way
by running a stock ranch up one of the northern
valleys. Therefore he managed to scrape together a
bull and cow, a he-goat and she-goat, a cock and
hen, and with these, on rafts built for their transport, set off, attended by his family, up an especially
wild river.    After some arduous days the cow raised
objections to the proceedings, threatened to smash up
her raft, and had to be tied to the kitchen stove. This
was unfortunate, because when the raft capsized the
stove anchored the cow to the bottom. Later on, the
hen got spoiled also, and likewise the she-goat; but,
nothing discouraged, Mr. Dash started his stock
ranch with flocks and herds consisting of three items
—a bull, a cock, and a billy-goat. Somehow the
Cock and Bull ranch was not a success, and, besides
his large family, the reverend gentleman had to support several devoted native retainers—these being old
folk long past work, and given over to Christianity
by their thrifty relatives. Mr. Missionary moved
farther down the river, where by labor and contrivance
he managed to set up a sawmill and a cannery. Few
were the customers, small the sales, but so much more
daring the enterprise. Hunting with his sons he got
bear, deer, and other large game in the mountains,
wild fruit from the forest, plenty of salmon from the
river. These, each in their season, he tinned at his
cannery, providing food for the household all the year
So the lights of a village glow in the depths of
the forest, a bell calls across the snowdrifts, and a
[ 139 ] I
T1—r-a if!
Mission has been founded after that irregular, schismatic, and unworldly Example once set in old Galilee
of the Gentiles.
But this gentleman is not the only capable missionary who has camped on the trail of the savage. One
famous specimen I knew used to keep a harem, murder babies, and bury his victims in nail kegs among
the cabbages; but I would rather speak of the hero-
priest I met at Hesquiat. The holy Father was quite
young when he was sent to convert the folks at Hesquiat. The doctors said his talk was all rot, but his
magic dangerous. He had a little black box with one
eye. This he would point at the folk, and the eye
winked, then pimples broke out on their faces, they
sickened and died of the magic. The whole tribe fled
into the snow-drifted woods, leaving only the dying,
the dead, and the holy Father with his box of magic.
They prayed hard in the woods, but the pestilence
was among them. The Magicians rattled and howled
to scare away the Evil, jumped on the chests of the
sick to stamp out the Devils, but still the people died.
The Chief was dying in raving madness when he sent
his little daughter to fetch the priest. He came, and
standing at the door of the brushwood shelter, lifted
:;      I        1 [140] Ss THE  TRAIL   OF   THE   MISSIONARY
up his hand, saying, " Pax Vobiscum." But the mad
Chief had a fowling-piece, and the hand which was
raised in blessing came down bloody and riddled.
Without a word the priest walked down to the water,
and was bathing his hand, when a second time he was
shot full in the back. He fell down half in the water,
half on the snow. The people were angry, they
would have killed the mad Chief, only the priest called
out to them to be " merciful."
For many days the Father lay raving of " mercy,"
a new word which the women could not understand
who nursed him. It must have been a strong magic,
that unknown word, for from the time it was spoken
the pestilence altogether ceased from killing the
After a long time a Bishop came up the coast, and
he had a little silver cup from which he gave strong
medicine. The priest lived. The Bishop wanted to
take the Father away, but he would not go, begging to
be still left with his people. Since then he has taught
them all to understand the word j mercy," and they
have tasted the strong medicine out of the little cup.
To return now from great matters to my own very
small cencerns.
Wm   H [i4i]
ifiS m
It had taken me ten weary days to climb the Skeena
torrent from tidewater, but shooting that long rapid
by canoe was now a very dream of ease. I had seen
no white man's face as yet that year, and at last had
a friend for company. We squabbled like cats, save
only when we stewed in separate gloom. (The exiles of that most lonely region are rarely on speaking
terms.) We camped in the big timber among canaries and humming-birds, swept down the sumptuous
curves, shot the big canyon, paddled through lanes
among a thousand isles, watched the seals playing all
sorts of games in the water; and always above us
hung forest and precipice, the glaciers, snowfields,
the heaven-piercing peaks which walled that chasm.
When a canoe feels the first break of a rapid, and
quivers from nose to tail ere she takes the plunge—
I cannot be expected to share up that memory
with strangers. We came with reluctant paddles to
salt water, and camped among the perfumes of
WHEN I came out from the Skeena valley
I was sick of being a missionary. At Victoria the Diocesan Synod gave me a suit
of clothes, seventy-five dollars, and the offer of further
training for Holy Orders. But I had need at the time
for study in geology, history, folk-lore, and other
matters tending to an understanding of the facts in
sight; so settled down at Victoria, wrote books, and
contributed these, as they matured, to local papers at
two dollars and a half a column. My editors hoped
that this ridiculous arrangement of paying for their
padding would not be regarded as a precedent.
I only 1 settled down " in moderation, and under
protest, because that year of study was broken by six
months of delightful holidays, taken when chances
arose for further travel. An Indian agent, who was
interested in corpse-eating and other polite habits
among the tribes, whistled for me from Comox. I
came running, and  found him impatient, with his
canoe, his constable, and an Indian, ready for a voyage among the Quagutls. We set out from Comox,
pulling northward up the Gulf of Georgia from two
in the afternoon until two in the morning, when we
had an hour's nap in the canoe. Dawn broke over the
needle-peaks and ice-fields of the Coast Range, the
sun flushed the high snows on the Vancouver alps, and
up the deep blue channel between the ranges we pulled
on doggedly against the tide. When we got into the
entrance of Seymour Narrows the main tide was running eleven knots, the back-water eight knots, and between these racing sluices we were caught in a series
of whirlpools. I have a vague recollection of the
canoe being spun like a top, while the other fellows
howled anathemas at me, but, being asleep at my oar,
was unable to attend to their troubles. The Indian
agent contrived our deliverance, and shooting across
the back-water we swung into a bay, where we camped,
having rowed some thirty-six miles. At our campground the straight pines, from twelve to fifty feet
in girth, went up two to three hundred feet aloft, and
in the shadowy aisles of that giant forest the ground
had been torn up into a muddy yard by trampling
herds of elk,
[144] H
On the next stage of our journey we came to the
canoe pass of Seymour Narrows. Here a large tide,
trying to pass through a small channel, piles up into
a cataract about eighteen feet in height. We camped
for dinner, and when we embarked again the tide was
spent, the water lying like green grass in the dead
slack of the ebb, as we paddled gently through. With
the rise of the flood-tide shortly afterwards the cataract re-formed from the opposite direction eighteen
feet high, and falling to the northward. There are
three of these salt-water cataracts among the channels of the Archipelago.
In those days the agent and I had much ado writh
the constable, who had a private grief and desired to
die. We did our best to help him, for when we dug
shell fish, and he dubbed them poisonous, we gave
him the most generous portion. Yet he thrived. At
night the tide would play unexpected freaks, washing
us out of camp; on one occasion drowning our kitten, a pair of gum boots, and a tin of sausages. So
death might have taken the constable, and yet, much
as he longed to pass away, his bed was always highest
up the beach. We came in time to a village of the
Euclataws, who lately had murdered and burned the
crew of a coasting sloop. There we might have
camped and been massacred, but the constable, greatly
as he craved for release from this vale of woe, insisted
upon our setting forth from the pernicious village.
A strong gale was blowing, and as we skirted the
north coast of Vancouver's Island that night, our
canoe came near to swamping; indeed we should without doubt have perished but for the heroic labors of
the would-be suicide. For many days we threaded
the mazes of the Broughton Archipelago, calling on
the worst tribes, searching for perils, that the constable might demise in search of a better world; but
the cannibals eschewed him, the waves rejected him,
he fattened on poison, and was bullet-proof. His was
a charmed life, and no doubt he still survives to cheer
his friends with prospects of his untimely fate and
desired obsequies.
At the Quagutl villages I was curious to know why
the coffins of the dead were slung in the tops of trees,
and all the branches stripped away beneath. The
agent explained that this was a proper and reasonble
precaution, to save the bodies from being stolen away
by cannibals. This opened up a curious field of
Among savages, as with ourselves, the Healers and
the Destroyers form important castes, but to practice
either as a doctor or as a soldier the candidate has to
perform certain religious rites. Thus the Red Indian,
before claiming warrior's rank, must go alone naked
into the wilderness, and there devote himself to fasting and prayer, until he receives a visitation, beholding the Great Spirit face to face. One may find details explained in the Book of Genesis. The Great
Spirit reveals to the Indian lad his " wampum,"
maybe a stick or a stone, to all appearance, which is
to be his talisman and guard him from all assaults of
death. Thus fortified, he returns to his tribe, and
after prayer submits himself to the ordeal by torture,
which, if he pass unflinching, gives him the right to
bear arms.   I have seen these mysteries.
On the Skeena I witnessed a different rite, for there
the ordeal by fasting admits to the priesthood only—
the Order of the Healers. The Doctors came in procession out of a great cedar house, dressed in their
ceremonial robes, and singing to soft drum-taps a
chant of such wild beauty that no man can hear it
without being deeply moved. Looking steadfastly
out upon the river ice, we presently saw figures of
■ ;v/    I   [147] vm
naked men hopping in strange mimicry of the tribal
beasts from whom the clans were named. These,
called by the music, drew near, entered the group of
Doctors, and were given robes.
A horrible variant of these rites is the calling of
Destroyers among the Quagutl tribes. The candidates, performing the Ordeal by Hunger, are supposed to encounter a loathsome spirit, the Ha-mad-si,
who lives entirely upon human flesh. To be like him
they then come to their native village naked, ravenous,
to devour live dogs and to bite the tribesmen. Above
all things they must prove themselves beyond human
feeling, and in better days used to kill and eat a
slave. Now that the white people have abolished
slavery, the initiates must still perform the ordeal—
so a body is stolen. My journey with the Indian
agent and his constable was made for the purpose of
getting proof that the custom still existed among
those Quagutl savages. We failed, but when our voyage ended at Alert Bay, I learned that the Ha-mad-si
had been delayed until we should take our departure
from the district. This nettled me, so, borrowing a
canoe, I set out with an Indian for Mamalillicullah,
the village where the feast was to be held.    Travel-
[148] A\
ing by night through dim channels, we paddled softly
to an islet abreast of the village, and there lay hid,
waiting for the beating of the drums in token that
the function had begun. Three days we lay hiding,
and, as I learned afterwards, were closely watched.
When at last I realized that the Indians were awaiting my departure, I felt that their annoyance must
be keen, and that any appearance of secret flight
would encourage them to come after me with guns.
So, to show there was no ill-feeling, I strolled through
the village by daylight, and made my leaving conspicuously slow. That made the people think I was
the Government.
On my return from that quest to Victoria, I had
the pleasure of charging the Indian Department with
propagating corpse-eating, drunkenness, scrofula,
massacres, and other delights, among the native
tribes; caused rude awakenings in official quarters;
and won for myself a handsome collection of private
My second journey that summer was made with
the Big Chiefs of the Hudson's Bay Company on a
steamer chartered for a tour of the British Columbia
coast.   As this region is still unknown to tourists, and
[ 149 ] ii    I
surpasses all known seaboards in its grandeur, I crave
indulgence for a paragraph on the scenery of one of
the sixteen fjords. These outrank the Sogne and
Hardanger fjords of Norway, but Knight's Inlet had
not then been visited by a steamer for nearly twenty
years. We had anchored at the entrance overnight,
and when the day broke were unable to move because
the place was densely veiled in fog. At ten o'clock
this lifted with the swiftness of an explosion, and we
steamed up a tide race two miles wide. For the first
mile of their height the walls were clothed in jungle,
though headlands stood out in naked ice-crowned
precipice. Barring the way ahead rose a cliff some
five thousand feet high, its brow a cornice glacier
shining like some long emerald, from whence fell a
lacework of diamond cataracts at least two miles in
width. On the left rose a crag of pale gold as high as
Snowdon, sheer from the sea, through cloud-belts, to
a crown of needle spires. Swirling between such walls
the channel swung, disclosing a lane of deep green
water reaching away into infinite distance. The
heights of mingled precipice and forest, glittering
cataract and hanging glacier, went up to hoary
stacks of snow-streaked rock, their white crowns stark
•■' [150] I; THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   SAVAGE
against an azure sky.    So the dark gorge winds on in
impenetrable shadow, while above the long avenue of
peaks melts away into mists of light.
From that I must turn reverently away, and leave
the funny little steamers, the exquisite canoes, and
all the tender memories of savage life. The next adventure led me towards the Arctic for a dabble in
THE Adele was a fifty-ton schooner, readily
pulled with oars, needing a crew of three
men. She carried eleven. She was built in
China, owned in Japan by Germans, and had British
registry; but nobody was responsible save her Norwegian master, while, with five national flags in her
locker, she played tunes on the teeth of the law. The
Japanese, Russians, or Americans would have made
her prize of war amid official rejoicings; but she was
wary of traps, and her skipper, hard to catch, was
known as the Flying Dutchman. Once, when I suggested that her proper flag was black, he called me a
fool, and remarked that those old-time pirates were
lacking in business aptitude.
The Flying Dutchman, drunk, consented to ship
me for a voyage, the Flying Dutchman, sober, tried to
back out; and drunk or sober would not sign me on
[ 152 ] I       YOKOHAMA   PIRATES
at the Custom House, so we arranged that I sail as
a stowaway.
As to where we were going, or what was the game,
I had not the least idea. I thought the A dele was a
sealer, but my friends in Victoria were derisive when
I talked of a sealing voyage to Behring's Sea in
November. At that time of year the fur seals were
basking down somewhere in the tropics, not wreathing
themselves with the ice of an Arctic winter. That
puzzled me, but the voyage was sure to be pretty good
fun, and a decided change of air. The Adele arranged a plot for sailing without me, so I went down
and camped on board.
We weighed, all hands drunk, and at midnight,
we being then in the Straits of Fuca, the skipper
made a very pretty demonstration after the manner
laid down for use on discovery of a stowaway. After
each burst of eloquence, I favored him with an engaging wink, giving an edge of reality to his performance. He signed me on as an ordinary seaman
at ten dollars a month, and sent me off to the forecastle. When he came on deck at sunrise he found
me coiled up on his sacred quarter-deck reading a
I meant no harm. In the glory-hole forward I
had found a rich air proceeding from oilskins, sea-
boots, human interest, and an expired lamp, also bales
of stockfish, decayed sea-oil, petroleum, tar, and bilge-
water. Sea air always making me ravenous, I was
drawn aft by the perfume of approaching breakfast,
and that novel was only a blind behind which I sniffed
and hoped.
To the underfed, overworked, maltreated British
deep-sea sailor man, let me give this heartfelt advice
—try a pirate. The food was sumptuous, served
watch and watch in the after cabin, and we all got
fat. As to the glory-hole, where six of us lived in
such rich air, there was no sorrow. No landsman
realizes the forecastle, or what real sailors are. The
absolute honesty, the striving for cleanliness under
difficulties, the mutual toleration, the brotherly gentleness before the mast have grown in a community
which has no rights, whose wrongs are all grown old.
I have seen little of beastial attributes as described
by owners and masters, nothing of the jolly Jack Tar
business, the very mention of which makes a sailor feel
sick; but I have observed in many voyages a pride of
craftsmanship, quiet courage, patience, endurance,
generosity among men who are treated worse than
farmyard swine.
Not that I was treated like the swine, indeed a
brother of the Lost Legion always finds Home before
the mast. The same queer home-feeling comes over
sailors when they stray among troopers, or gold-
miners, or any kind of frontiersmen, for all are of
one tribe. I was treated as a younger brother, everybody helping me to learn the trade, and, clumsy as
I was, the seamanship ran in my blood by heritage.
As to seasickness, I think that usually comes from a
defective balancing of the body, and the poise of the
horseman, cyclist, or canoeist, as applied to a rolling
deck, is prevention absolute. I cured it the first voyage I ever made, within one hour, and have been exempt from that time.
Somehow, although unobtrusive and harmless, I had
got to be known in Victoria as the " Mysterious
Pocock"; and on board the A dele nobody could be
induced to believe in me as an 1 ordinary seaman."
I was reported from the first to be some sort of evil
spy or detective, and my shipmates would rather have
sailed with the devil. No " ordinary seaman " would
have a camera in his dunnage, and that one-eyed black
B§   ••!' m   [i55i I
box was peculiarly offensive in taking evidence on
board a pirate ship. All hands had sworn its destruction. Therefore I made a photograph of each man
separately; but the cook, being recalcitrant, I smoked
out with a sack down the stovepipe, and his portrait
proved most expressive. Sweet are the uses of human
vanity, for now no man on board really objected to
that instrument, though all vowed still to destroy it.
They also determined to disable me as a spy by
marooning me upon some desert island. I always had
misgivings when we came to a desert island. We
landed on the outer coast of Vancouver's Island to cut
a number of handy clubs in the forest. We landed at
the Shumegin Islands, watered the ship, and bought
two dories, flat-bottomed boats, in exchange with a
trader for gin and potatoes. Still I had not guessed
the purpose of the voyage, and nobody told me, because I was a 1 spy." We had a shooting trip there
on the Arctic tundra, and with our revolvers killed a
number of salmon. That country consists of grass-
clumps, the size and height of dinner-tables, scattered
on a field of mud. In the mud run little streams where
the salmon lay asleep, and once awakened they made
good hunting, for they swam with lightning swift-
ness. That night was the skipper's father's birthday,
celebrated with a display in the cabin of thirty-five
lighted candles, and a general drunk fore and aft.
Greatly refreshed, we put to sea, running through
the Shumegin Islands, which are the best hunting-
grounds left for the almost extinct sea-otter. Far
to the north loomed the white alps of Alaska. We
overhauled our mitts, sea-boots, oilies, ready for hard
usage to come, and so, by a passage through the
Aleutian Islands, entered Behring Sea.
Some two hundred miles north of the Ounimak Pass
we sighted the Pribyloffs, and heading for St. George
Island bore away under black lava cliffs in the midst
of a driving squall.    The hail whitened the decks.
" A man running along the cliffs, sir!' The mate
had field-glasses.
" The son of a gun! My glass, quick," said the
Flying Dutchman;
" Yes, dot vash so, the yumped up son of a gun.
Stand by the anchor, there! All ready ? " We had
opened South West Bay, and came up all fluttering.
" Down staysail! Down yib! Let go! " and down
plunged the anchor.
The skipper called the boy.
" Tom, go get 'em each a good horn of yin."
" Four men coming out of the shack yonder, sir!
They seem to have rifles! "
The skipper whispered confidentially to the binnacle something forcible between his teeth. Then,
" In sail, and out with the dinghy," while the mate
called for volunteers.
"I'll go," "And I," said Sven the Swede, and
The boy was up out of the scuttle with a square-
faced bottle, which passed. The skipper jammed a
gun into his hip-pocket, dropped over the side, and
presently we watched the boat bubbling up and down
as he headed for the surf. The four men were loading their rifles. Then I began to notice that black
dots were swimming about all round us, the heads of
fur seals. They were leaping and throwing themselves
for fun, they came up close alongside, whooping
" Pooh! " derisively, and wagged their hind flippers
as they dived.
They swarmed about the boat, playing with it as
though they had found a new toy; indeed one, gripping an oar-blade in his teeth, held on like a puppy
to a root until the man missed stroke. The guard
ashore had leveled their rifles ready to open fire, and
down came another squall.
When the air cleared, the skipper was ashore, having a pleasant chat with the Aleutian guard, while
a bottle of gin settled down on its orbit in the most
natural friendly way. He had been driven out of
his course for Petropaulovsky with a broken binnacle,
lost reckonings, and a leak. The Aleuts would have
him understand that they were Government, United
States Government, that he must not come ashore, that
they did not drink—but still the bottle passed round.
They had already sent a man to warn the village just
across the island-—we should be attacked in a minute,
because they were Government. Yes, they might have
time to finish the bottle—they finished the bottle.
" I suppose," said the skipper, looking innocently
about him at the seal herds, " that you think I came
after sealskins ? " The Aleuts were smiling vigorously, as, with an affectionate farewell, the skipper
jumped into the dinghy and shoved off through creaming surf.
The plan was to lure the Governor of the island on
board with sufficient men, get them drunk, then land
and raid the warehouse.    But night was already fall-
ing, and soon we had other matters needing most
serious attention.
I stood anchor watch from six bells to midnight,
with orders to report to the mate any change of
It was blowing a strong gale, but we lay just
within shelter, screened by one of the points of the
crescent bay; and though the sea was rolling white
outside, I had no change to report when the seaman
acting second mate relieved me. The skipper and
the mate, drunk in the cabin, played cribbage, and
argued as to our safety. The mate wanted to weigh,
and get plenty of sea room. When the second mate
took charge, I sat by the forecastle lamp reading,
half curious concerning something which flopped
about overhead, until Jim called me on deck. He
had gaffed a fur seal on board, and we three played
gravely, like sensible children, the seal a little shy>
but not unwilling. There was a full gale blowing
when I went below to turn in.
" All hands on deck! " The gale had whipped
round that instant, and with hurricane strength swept
in on the anchorage. The sea rose at us, the anchor
was dragging, we were caught on a lee-shore.    By
[ 160 ] ■"-li
the light of the surrounding surf we cast off the gaskets, loosed the sails, and manning the windlass
pumped on the brakes, broken sea voices croaking out
the time, while the skipper and the mate squabbled,
or fought drunkenly in the waist. The brake bars
wrenched from our clutch, whole fathoms of chain tore
out over the drums whenever the anchor fouled, but
inch by inch we sweated home that cable, still drifting
bodily shoreward. Now we were lifting on long
combers, now sunk in the trough, still fighting with
the strained brakes, pumping up and down, up and
down, to the hoarse cries that kept us in time. Then
with a wrench we were shaken off, thrown in all directions from the brakes. The cable had parted, we
were hurling along on the rollers, and it was " every
man for himself."    We began to strip.
I noticed Dave, my chum, trying to sweat up the
staysail, and wondered vaguely why he should take
any more trouble. Suddenly the wind ceased, and
looking up from my hold in the foreshrouds to windward, I found we were in dead calm under shelter of
a sea whose white crown shone high as the mastheads,
and, as we lurched at it, the gleaming, curved black
wall arched, closing overhead.    I yelled to the crowd,
I [161 ] »>F
gripped hard, the sea came crashing down, my back
seemed breaking under the blow, I felt the schooner
roll on her beam ends, crushed under, then, half-
drowned, saw all hands heaped in the lee deck, their
arms reaching up through white waters. The ship
righted, slewed round by the sea, came up to the wind,
the staysail filling—we were under way—we were
saved! Broken adrift, the main boom swung lurching across the after-deck, but someone crawled to the
wheel, steadied the helm, took charge, and, close as
he dared to the wind, steered for the open sea. We
jumped the rollers, wallowed in the trough, caught
the gale again and steadied, chancing the reefs, getting rapidly under sail.
Was it Dave with his sweating on the staysail, or
the breaker which slewed us? We gave our thanks
elsewhere. We gathered at the water-cask, all very
thirsty, watching the wind in the close-reefed sails
aloft, staring back full of wonder towards the loom
of the cliffs astern, and men spoke gently like women,
as we counted heads to see if all were saved.
We had been fighting five minutes for life—two
whole hours said the forecastle clock. One beam
had been sprung by that breaker, but we had lost
nothing—except the boat, an anchor, and the ship's
We lay hove to, just beyond sight of land, waiting
for the full moon before attempting to raid St. Paul's,
the greater of the islands. The deck glazed over,
the rigging was cased in ice, the wind blew a full gale
at times, and the ground-swell in those shallow waters
threatened at times to wholly demolish the Adele.
Scrambling up and down the ice-clad deck to keep
warm, with wet mitts rubbing animation into a large
cold nose, bowled over occasionally when we shipped a
sea, one could only be cheerful in a very moderate
There were episodes. The flooding of the forecastle, a draught of smoke down the stovepipe, or the
dinner all adrift in the cabin, would furnish occasional
themes for vigorous comment. Twice we sighted
whalers homeward bound from the Arctic, plunging
on the majestic heave of the green swell," their canvas
crisp, white pearl against purple cloud. We had
good cod from the banks which the seal frequented,
or would meet those curious sea-people ostentatiously
sleeping out a storm, flippers folded across the breast,
lordly whiskers keeping their " watch on deck."   The
[163] Ill
whiskers failed to warn one of these young gentlemen, and we had him—like fresh pork with a strong
flavor of cod—for a Sunday dinner. As to his heart,
liver, and kidneys, they might have come from a
sheep, and were delicious. The skipper had a severe
attack of total abstinence, there being no more liquor.
At the end of the second week, under a bright blue
sky, and fresh breeze dead astern, we bore down, all
winged out, on two white hills in the sea, which at sundown grew to a snow-clad island with gently swelling
downs. This was St. Paul's, the big city of the fur
seals, where three millions of them spend the summer
to feast on the cod banks, rejoice and fight in their
harems, and teach their little puppies how to swim.
We stood in the South West " Rookery " at dusk,
and lay under the lee of the land, with darkened portholes and a covered skylight, leaving the gear all slack,
to readily get under weigh.
Just abreast was the big rookery, the stench of
which came down to us on the wind, bouquet of hen-
run multiplied by X, together with an absurd babble
of bleats, screeches, and dog barks. How enticing
it was, the sound of many seal voices, calling across
the water, sneering, coughing, deriding, with impu-
dent mockery about us in the water, child mermaids
bobbing up to screech " Po-o-oh!" at the toy
schooner, then darting away to hide. There was no
surf, plenty of wind for flight in case the village attacked us, plenty of moonlight for the raiding, and
room on deck for at least four hundred skins—a fortune.    So we all gathered aft and mutinied.
The skipper had promised a written agreement that
each man (except me) was to receive fifty cents for
every skin that was taken. That was in Victoria.
At the Shumegin Islands the promise was withered
down somehow to twxenty-five cents a skin, with no
writing. Wherefore Mr. Bloody Growl, A. B.,—that
was only a pseudonym—put his baggage into one of
the ship's boats, and rowed off casually with the
laconic remark that he would go " fishing." The
Flying Dutchman herded the gentleman home with
a Winchester rifle; but still a sore feeling remained.
Nobody could see why half a dollar should so dwindle
into a quarter. It might go on shrinking into a dime,
or vanish away into a vague regret. On the other
hand the skipper was shy, with a blushing reluctance
to sign any written evidence of his peculiar business
interests.    When he went ashore to prospect, taking
the mate, it was proposed that we slip cable and square
away for Victoria. Could I navigate ? No, nor anyone else on board.
The seals were barking and bleating and smelling
to heaven around us, and the skipper came back with
nineteen, which were put on deck snorting and dying
dolefully, while we weighed, made sail, and stood seaward. So the snow-clad hills and foreshores of the
land melted behind us.
At midnight, when I went below for coffee, the skipper asked me " was I one of the gang? "
" How much do I get on each skin ? "
" Same as the rest."
1 Then I'm with the gang."
I never got a penny, but, moved by some feeling
of importance at the time, consulted gravely with the
council forward, who told me cheerfully to go to
blazes; so it was with a dwindling sense of importance
that I curled my tail for a sleep. Thereafter I had
the confidence of both the skipper and the mutineers,
but kept my tongue tucked away. The cabin boy
and I did watch and watch about for seventy hours,
in sole charge of the ship, while the mutineers talked
in the bows and the after-guard talked in the stern.
[166]   I J        'HI
When the mutineers came down to the cabin for meals,
the Flying Dutchman ostentatiously cleaned rifles,
eye cocked, ears up, and ready. He had five people
aft well armed; we had six forward with two revolvers
—but the talk was much fiercer forward.
The after-guard consisted of the skipper, mate,
cook, hunter, and boy, enough to take the schooner
into the " rookery," club a deck-load of seals, and
share the resulting profit, leaving the mutineers to
stew in the glory-hole forward. When this scheme
was resolved on the mutineers were charmed. They
would wait until the after-guard went ashore, then
slip cable and square away for Victoria, leaving the
raiders to be captured red-handed by one hundred
Aleutian riflemen.
I was fairly well pleased until the skipper decided
on taking me ashore as one of the raiders; but then
I spent half the night sewing a pocket in my skin-
coat for private papers, a tooth-brush, comb, and
soap, which might prove a comfort in jail. Having
a very real interest at last, I ventured to propose to
both sides a basis for possible compromise. " All
hands on the lay, three bits for cows, and one bit for
brown and gray pups," that was the formula on which
[167] $
a treaty was arranged during breakfast, except that
I was to get nothing. The skipper shrewdly dated
the agreement on Sunday, making it quite invalid.
Of course it was an enormous satisfaction to know
at last how to divide the spoils, although we had lost
our only chance of successful raiding.
Twice we bore down on the islands, to find ferocious
surf loom through the darkness ahead, but we had to
wait five weeks before another landing was possible.
Behring Sea is shallow, forty fathoms at best, with a
thousand miles in the clear for sweep of storms. The
ground-swell lifts to an enormous height, greatest,
perhaps, of all the seas on earth. I have seen no
spectacle of such dread grandeur as those gray-green
ranges with their snowy crests. Sweeping down
them had all the thrill of a toboggan slide or a water-
chute; recovery for that small schooner seemed a
miracle. After a month it got rather on our nerves,
and Sven, the Swede, went gradually mad with fear.
The weather grew colder, with snow or hail squalls
hourly, freezing gales cutting across a deck which
afforded no shelter. It was not easy to walk on the
glazed deck, and a staggering promenade along the
Hfe-line was usually marred as a joy by green seas
breaking in board. The schooner was heavily down
by the bows with ice, a fairy structure glittering from
truck to sea-line—perhaps fairies might have found
her comfortable. The moon was on the wane, and the
sea decently quiet, when at last, in a blinding snowstorm, we bore down once more on the South West
Rookery of St. Paul's. We thawed out the windlass
with boiling water, chopped out a few tons of ice, and
got the anchor clear by the time we reached our berth.
The dories were lowered, leaking like baskets; the
clubs were handed down for murdering seals; and eight
men were told off for the raid, but claws in the scruff
of my neck dissuaded me from landing. " No spies
Until the boats came home I was ruffled and sore,
but the news they brought wholly assuaged my grief.
The surf was pretty bad, and beyond that, in black
darkness, you came to icy bowlders. These generally
turned out to be old bull seals which weighed a ton,
and were as big as a church, promptly showed fight,
and chased you into the water. The first boat, fighting back through the tide, was carried away seaward.
and finally reached us just at the point of sinking.
Then came the second boat, also in a sinking condi-
W- 1      [ 169 ] M
tion, with the cheering report that Sven, the mad
Swede, had deserted, no doubt to bring the enemy to
our undoing. The crowd, worn out, had coffee and
turned in, postponing further trouble until daybreak.
I took the anchor watch.
Meanwhile Sven ranged along the shore, glad to
escape being dismasted, burned, cast away, foundered,
captured, shot, bitten by seals, or drowned in the surf
—all of which fates he had predicted daily. When
he got cold and tired he improvidently burned his
shirt and oilskins, to make a nice fire and get warm.
It was 2 a. m. when, pacing the lonely deck, I sighted
that fire, and made sure of an attack from the
Aleutian village. Not that I greatly feared, for,
during the evening, in the Flying Dutchman's boots
and a torn oilskin, the cook had paraded the cabin,
setting forth how, with a live coal and a keg of powder, he would discomfort all boat attacks—a sure
recipe, he said, for Aleuts. Still, to make certain that
the schooner was not visible, I made hurried survey of
shrouded skylight and portholes. The cabin boy had
carelessly uncovered one f| porthole, and that I
smothered. Upon which Sven, rather chilly since his
shirt went out, supposed we had sailed, and gave way
wholly to grief. He thought of the flesh-pots and the
warmth, he straggled back to where the schooner had
been, and when in the breaking dawn he sighted his
lost home, he let out yowls of joy. All the same the
Flying Dutchman addressed him at considerable
length by way of welcome when he came on board.
At 5 a. m. the raiding began again; but the surf
was worse than ever, the boats insisted on sinking,
and as to the seals, there were very few left on the
islands except the grim old bulls, which attacked every
man they saw. One man only escaped by a plunge
into the cool sea. Day broke, and when there were no
seal carcasses to haul on board, I had time for hasty
memoranda with the condemned camera. The village
looked disagreeably close, with smoke rising from all
the chimneys; the American officials watched us
through telescopes. They knew we could slip to sea
before a boat had our range; but still they seemed to
take quite an interest, and it was nice for us seeing
strangers after so many weeks of the lonely sea.
It was almost noon before we weighed with seventy-
five seals, gleaned from the almost deserted breeding-
grounds. As we took in the boats one large seal
raised himself from the deck to a man's height, then,
li      [ 171 ]    1
blinded with blood, swayed drowsily and fell, a
creature so nearly human that we all felt like murderers. But the work which followed was much worse
than murder, for as we stood to sea we skinned the
carcasses, wading in blood and grease. The skin had
to be flenched from a heavy layer of blubber, and what
with the cold, the rolling of the deck, and the smell,
I would gladly deny myself all the pleasures of sealing. We salted and stowed our prey, enough to redeem the voyage from total failure.
The whole ship's company save myself had traversed the Ounimak Pass on former voyages, but not
one had seen the passage free from fog. As fogs
are formed on the Newfoundland Banks by the meeting of the Gulf Stream with the Arctic Current, so is
the Aleutian region clouded by a contact of the warm
Black River from the Japan seas with the Arctic
waters which flow from Behring Straits. Few men
living have seen that volcano wrapped in almost eternal cloud which crowns the island of Ounimak. The
land is under a curse, and no Indian ever camps there;
the fog lies heavy on the Straits, and the sealers go
past without knowledge. But for a whole day the
Adele lay becalmed in these mysterious waters, and
for once the great Shishaldin rose in glory, white
without stain, from the surf which rolled on his coast
up to the delicate smoke which veiled his crown.
Three mile-high alps, set in a triangle, rise sheer as
icebergs from a level moor, and from their midst,
nine thousand feet in, air, lifts that rare, exquisite
cone, perfect in contour. There is no other mountain in the world sculptured in so magical a perfection.
We saw him last, hull down across the sea, setting in
the north, kindled to rose and flame by the declining
sun, and so went on, attended by fleets of the nautili,
out into the wastes of the Pacific.
Sometimes in the night watches of that homeward
voyage, the Flying Dutchman would bring his concertina, and squat in the starlight ringing out old
Norse melodies., wild, ferocious, triumphant, then of
a sudden ghastly with despair. One could not see
his foxy eyes and sensuous mouth, but only remember
the daring, the seamanship, the generosity of this last
of the Vikings.
My pleasantest memory of him belongs to those
night watches when, the music over, and the first yawn
not come, he told me stories of misdeeds, the saga of
the Yokohama Pirates.
[ 173 ] "***■"■
There were twenty schooners, the Adele one of
them, supposed to hunt sea-otter, really engaged in
the robbery of fur-seal rookeries. The breeding-
grounds of the Kurile group were destroyed, those of
Saghalien and the Commander group damaged, despite the utmost efforts of Russian gunboats and
The raiders would get the Cossacks drunk, then
plunder the warehouses, and put to sea with a load
of furs worth a fortune. But there was also fighting
every year, either with the Russian guards or among
the raiders, and many a time a schooner put out in
flight, her decks littered with dead and dying men.
Captain Dan Maclean, captured by the Russians, and
condemned to penal servitude, is said to have worked
in an underground mine chained to a fellow-convict,
and fed by means of a basket let down on a cord
from the daylight. The other convict died, and the
raider said he was three days chained to the corpse
before his cries were heard.
On the whole, what with fighting, captures,
schooners foundered or cast away, and the heavy
suasion of the Japanese Government, the Yokohama
Pirates were fairly wiped out, and the Adele, sole
survivor, was constrained to seek refuge at the British
port of Victoria. This must have been about the
year 1886. The Flying Dutchman now gave up
" sea-otter hunting," and the Adele became a decent
pelagic sealer, one of our sealing fleet. She was
captured by an American gunboat, taken to San
Francisco, and her crew tried amid much public excitement. There proved to be no jurisdiction, and
the Adele was released; but the Flying Dutchman
was very sore, because he had actually for once been
committing no crimes whatever, and for the outrage
of his capture swore vengeance against the United
States Government.
For five successive winters he raided the Pribyloff
Islands, doing untold mischief and making plenty of
money; the fourth voyage, when I was with him, being
a failure.    On the sixth voyage the Adele was cast
away,  and  her bones  are bleaching on the Queen
Charlotte Islands.   When I last heard of the Flying
Dutchman he was a miner on the Vancouver coast, and
most gallantly led in the rescue of a shipwrecked crew
cast away on some outer reef.    Big fortune to you,
last of the Vikings!
The night was resplendent under the full moon,
our sails pearl-white and all asleep against the deep
sky. The swell breathed as though the sea were in
slumber, the little craft its dream. Only the spray,
flashing like diamonds under the forefoot, the ruddy
light from the binnacle, the cold blue shadows swaying on the deck, the snowy gleam of planks, bulwarks,
and spars, sharpened the picture into actual fact,
which must otherwise have melted into those depths
of sea and sky wherein we lay. Slowly the moon, all
ruddy in a haze, went down, and foundered like a
burning ship. Out of a pale, sweet light diffused
along the east arose a star, the morning star of
Promise, white on the brow of the dawn, soaring upward. Rose-flushed came the young day, conquering
the heavens with flame-bright shafts of glory, then
lifted a mound of dazzling fire, and the sun leaped
clear from the sea. Along the pale-green swell, far
in the northeast, glowed a violet film of towered, embattled mountains. Day chased the night along its
summits, when, in the utter stillness, the mate took a
turn or so along the decks, and gave the salutation
to the watch:
" Land ho!"
[176] XI
jA FTER my return to Victoria I was quite
/ It good for months, writing insipid stuff for
j Ilk the local Press, and behaving prettily at
evening parties, while the Flying Dutchman, and the
Bull Seal, a retired pirate, aroused the sealing community against me. My harmless book on the Yokohama Pirates—afterwards scornfully rejected by all
the publishers—had to be dictated secretly at night to
a stenographer, who sat between locked doors and an
open strong room, grievously alarmed. Coarse plots
were hatched for my discomfort, and once my own
chum, Dave, was sent to lure me into a drinking-hell.
I had pushed open the door to enter, when a detective
jumped from behind and grabbed me just in time
to save me from being trapped. Failing violence, the
Flying Dutchman made funny little conspiracies
which ended in attacks upon my personal repute in
the leading Canadian papers.    Much as I liked the
little Viking, I sent for him then, and made him
apologize on pain of the most disagreeable consequences. So we shook hands, and I was able afterwards to walk the streets unarmed.
This tea-party period lasted until spring, when
certain merchants subscribed to send me to the new
mining-camps in Kootenay. I was to advertise that
district in the Press, and, after the liberal Western
manner, my backers handed me a check, giving no
orders, asking for no reports, but trusting me to do
my best in attracting capital to the country. The
sun was shining, the birds were singing, when I left
a Northern Pacific train at Kootenay Station in
Idaho, and took the coach for the North.
" I'm kind o' curious," said the stage driver, " to
know how we're goin' to find Pack River. That ole
river—she may be tearing the bones out, and again
she may have gone down a piece. The bridge carried
away on Monday, and she'd riz five feet more when
I swum her yesterday."
Once the wretched horse, sinking into a mud-hole,
emerged half suffocated, and we went jolting on over
stumps. Then the off-wheels, climbing a three-foot
log, jolted me off the coach and wedged me inside the
near fore-wheel. Being rescued, I got back to my
seat, and we jolted on through the forest.
The stage road came to an end at Bonner's Ferry
in Idaho, a little frontier trading post where trappers
in long-fringed deerskin hunting-shirts sat around
thinking through the summer months. One of them
was a guide, with a business in conducting " tenderfoot " hunters, who went out with him but never came
back, and lately his trade had slackened.
A steamer had come over the road in sections, and
plied northward on Kootenay River down to the British boundary and the mines.
From the mouth of the river, just north of the
Canadian boundary, the big lake reached away some
seventy miles, walled with high mountains.
In the days of our grandmothers a canoe crept
across that lake, and voyageurs of the Hudson's Bay
Company camped on a beach of silver ore. Mining
was none of their business, but the hunters saw what
they took for lead among the ashes of their camp-
fire. That is why they used to go there afterwards
and make bullets, never dreaming that it was silver
with which they filled their pouches.
It was quite by accident that the Kootenay mines
were found. Some hunters camped on top of the
mountains, sought pasturage among the snowdrifts
for their ponies, and found—wealth. Across the land
lay a belt of gorgeous ore, glowing vermilion and
violet, marred only by dirty black patches of solid
silver. Such is the || Silver King," and the news of
the Hall Mines brought a rush of prospectors. Three
years later, when I got to Kootenay, there were two
hundred people in the Nelson Camp, and at least a
hundred at the Warm Springs. I think I brought
the first medicines into Kootenaj, and certainly there
was excitement when I produced a pocket-case of
drugs to treat a man for a cold. He was so affected
that he promptly went off on a drunk and got the
horrors. There were a score of Englishmen in Nelson, and I pricked up my ears at hearing my native
drawl. But they were—except two old hands—cold
to me, deuced chilly, because I herded with a lot of
beastly American prospectors.
The beastly prospectors steered shy of these preposterously useless idlers, who neither toiled nor
sweated, nor looked pretty, but had puffed sleeves to
their riding-breeches, and lived haughtily on remittances from their parents.    The young Englishman
needs half murdering with trouble before he learns
any facts.   I know!
By the earmarks and the brands of the herd, by
their clear observant seeing with scant comment, by
the free swing of shoulders which could not endure a
coat, the lungs which abhorred a house, the hooked-up
ready fingers, the tanned hide, the thrown-on clothes,
the dust of the trails, these beastly prospectors were
of my tribe, and I had found another cohort of the
Legion. They suffered me gladly in every tent and
cabin on the hills, included me in the conversation,
told me the things always hidden from strangers. So
I learned the trail of the prospectors, and, rather than
tell my own very trivial adventures, I want to describe
the trade.
On the Frontier, where civilization is regarded as a
taint, a " respectable " man might starve before anybody trusted him with money; but when a frontiersman is broke, and wants to explore for minerals in
the wilderness, he readily finds some friendly saloonkeeper, or trader, to put up a grub-stake. This consists of a season's supply of flour, beans, bacon, sugar,
and coffee, with arms, tools, blankets, harness, and
pack animals.   In return the speculator gets a third
interest as shareholder in every discovery. But the
" free miner " does not face the appalling risks of
travel all alone in countries where the mere straying
of a horse, or sprain of an ankle, may involve a lingering death by starvation. Two or three partners make
the little companies, which, like a ship putting out
to sea, must depend on experience, judgment, and
nerve for a safe return to mankind.
One has to search for minerals usually where the
slopes are a maze of dead-fall under the pines, and
force a way through the underbrush, fighting a swarm
of mosquitoes. One stubs one's toe on some lurking
stone—a stumble over that, a muttered curse, a
glance of reproach at the stone—it is stained with
yellow carbonates! Down with the pack, and the
search begins up hill. There is more yellow " float,"
fragments are scattered here and there for perhaps a
thousand feet. Then they cease, there being no sign
of mineral above a certain line. On that line a cut
must be made to bedrock, a trench opened, exposing
the overfallen, iron-capped outcrop of a mineral-
bearing ledge (reef). A city may result from that
discovery. Above the cut a tree is blazed, and on it
pinned an inscription:
1 Notis*—We Jock Brown and Tom P. King locate
a mining claim known as the Grubstake mine and
claims 1500 feet long, running 750 feet northerly
and 750 feet southerly from this center stake, and
300 feet west and 300 feet east, located this 16th
day of July  1889. Jock Brown.
" Tom P. King."
Jock goes to the nearest Recorder's office, many
days' journey perhaps, displays his mineral, pays
fees, and makes record. Blind Tom holds the ground
for both until Jock returns. After that so much
work must be done every year or the claim lapses; but
let claim-jumpers go warily, because Messrs. Brown
and King have rifles, and public opinion to back them
if they kill.
Such is the opening chapter in the history of a
mine. Two hundred feet below the blazed tree a tunnel is blasted into the mountain-side, fronted by a
platform of broken rock where the ore lies in glittering heaps. The platform, steeped in perfume from
the forest, bathed in warm sunlight, is a playground
for squirrels and butterflies; and one may look out
over the pine tops on range upon range of alps.   Near
I      B [I83! \w
by is the forge for sharpening steel drills, and a path
leads away to the cabin, deep-hidden in the woods.
The sun has touched the logs with golden light,
pools of blue shadow lie below the walls, and within
there is cool dusk, the luxury of the brush-strewn
bunks, the restfulness of a welcome. If the door has
been locked against bears, the key hangs near as an
invitation to eat, tarry, and sleep, but to wash up and
lock the door before leaving.
One evening at the Grubstake, Tom was resting,
Jock cooking supper and washing up the breakfast
things. " A prospector," said Blind Tom, glancing
up at me through his bowed spectacles, " is a dam'
fool anyhow. He lets himself out as a mule, he packs
his grub and his blankets up ungodly steep hills, he
works like a bull team opening up his claim, and then
he sells out to a tin-horn capitalist, and puts up
drinks for the crowd until he's broke. All the boys
know he's a fool. Say, pardner," he called over from
the bunk to Jock, who was parboiling bacon, " if this
here transmigration of souls is straight doctrine—
don't boil it all away, Jock, we aint got much—I
guess I'll be an aristocrat in my next life, and run a
gymnasium for young ladies."
After supper Jock asked me: " Say, hev you got
a penknife? " I lent mine with some pride, and he
saw the pride. " Nice knife," he said, abstractedly
thrusting it in his pocket.   " Tom, I've made a knife."
Both men watched me cynically, to see if I would
bear the test, the sharing of all things in common.
Theirs was a religion of action, coupled with skepticism, a sensitive honor towards all good men, while
they cheat the eye-teeth out of a capitalist; a life of
self-denial, qualified by debauches; a love of the
wilderness, which they curse obscenely; courage, with
lapses of hysteria.
But in all the bewildering complexities of natural
history that last is the strangest trait. Partners who
love one another very deeply will quarrel after a long
winter of their solitude. One fails to wash up the
dishes, the other resents the neglect, and they squabble
morosely for months. Then in a fit of hysterics one
or the other gets shot through the heart " by accident "—and profoundly mourned. A woman in
hysterics laughs and sobs, but a man kills.
The prospector is a fool of coarse, because he finds
the silver and gold for all nations, but himself goes
ragged. In his trail come the experts and capitalists,
I      ■       [185] 1
the working miners and chemists, to build an industry
to furnish new blood for the arteries of commerce.
So much has happened in Kootenay, now laced with
railways, populous with towns, a theme of the Stock
Exchange, an excuse for gambling in " Hall Mines "
and " Le-Roys." A civilized community has arisen,
a new district, big as England, is added to us. The
prospectors were bought out, threw their trashy
money to the winds, explored two thousand miles
northward into the wilderness, discovered the Klondike, and a district as big as Western Europe is
added to us.
They are fools. Saint Paul the Apostle called himself a fool, who, being a Jew, stayed poor; who, being
a Roman citizen, was not a shareholder, but left the
soothing sport of persecution, and, like a modern
prospector, was in journeys often, in labors, perils,
and sufferings for things beyond money, intangible,
of the spirit. The fool frontiersman, outcast from
a civilization of grubs, lives near to nature, seeing also
things intangible.
When I had visited the claims in the explored districts of Kootenay, and done a little prospecting to
know how it felt, I cajoled the prospectors into sub-
scribing a fund to advertise for capitalists, and spent
their money on a journey to the city of Spokane in
the neighboring State of Washington, where most of
the large mines were owned. Spokane was very civil,
giving me the freedom of the Mining Exchange, the
run of the business offices, and having me interviewed,
even in bed at midnight, for one of the newspapers.
I was made father to such imaginings as seemed to
mining men like ravings of lunacy, and got one reporter sacked. But Spokane was only civil. Advertise Kootenay! Why, the mine-owners wanted to
bribe me to silence. The discoveries must be kept
dark until they could cheat all the prospectors out of
their claims in those hills.
So I was starved out, heavily in debt to the men
who had trusted me. It took me seven years to heal
that scar.
WITH three dollars left, and an hotel bill
ripening swiftly, I came to an end of my
madness regarding Kootenay. A Colonel
entirely non-military had approached me on the subject of a leaflet in praise of his bogus town-site known
as " Columbia, Wash.," and destined to be the future
metropolis of the West. I wrote the lies and he
signed them, made a map which he improved with a
fancy river scrawled across several ranges of mountains, then published the advertisement, and got fifteen dollars in payment. The town-site purported to
be terminus of a new railway, and on the date of publication I was in the Colonel's office when a stranger
" Colonel in ? " he demanded.
" You'd better wait," said the office boy.
" I won't.    Tell your Colonel that I'm the President of the Y. P. Q. Railroad, and that if he doesn't
withdraw  his   pamphlet   by   sundown   I   prosecute.
The pamphlet was withdrawn.
A year before my visit the city had been burned,
and on the blackened site stood now a new Spokane
in massive buildings of granite, marble, and steel. If
I could photograph those buildings, and produce engraved blocks, they would sell readily to the merchants for use in advertising. So taking the negatives with my Kodak, I offered double pay to a photographer for prompt delivery of copies. He saw
shrewdly that there was money to be made with his
own camera, and prudently daubed my negatives with
wax, so that the copies represented Spokane in a fog.
My solicitor was indignant at the trick. " You've
got a perfect case, young man, a convincing case.
Take my advice and—drop it! "
" You'll get a verdict from which he can appeal,
and go on appealing from court to court until the
Day of Judgment. This is a free country, and
there's no such thing as justice."
Formulating a new scheme on the way, I called
on the Editor of the Scarehead.   " Spokane," said I,
1 [189]
" is giving an Exposition.—Give me a horse, with my
expenses, let me ride over your district, and I'll write
up its industries for a big special edition of the
Scarehead. Of such an edition I can sell to the city,
the county, the Mining Exchange, and the Exposition Committee at least fifty thousand copies for free
distribution as advertisements."
The Editor consenting meekly, I arranged that the
Mining Exchange should send a deputation to wait
upon me at my hotel. To these gentlemen I explained
the newspaper plan, and undertook during my ride
to take a couple of hundred photographs depicting
the industries of their country.
" From these," I said, " I'll make lantern slides
for illustrated lectures, praising your district, and
only want the use of the Mining Exchange building,
and a thousand dollars cash."
These things being promised, I went, representing
important interests now, to the Secretary of the Exposition, and made offer of enlargements of my photographs to form a picture gallery, together with engravings of the same to make a souvenir book. Terms
being arranged, I returned, full of innocent joy, to
get horse and equipment from my Editor. .
s  [190] THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   TRADER
He said he had changed his mind.
" Really? I made up your mind for you, such as
it is—why worry? I've promised the whole city of
Spokane to ride out on this business after lunch. Get
the horse!"
He got the horse. Truly the animal was rather
like a towel-horse in some ways, but the livery stables
where I baited would charge the usual terms. The
creature purported to be alive, and by pushing behind I might travel some miles in a day. The saddle
was on a scale of splendor becoming to such a steed,
and I was provided lavishly with funds for the first
three days. Afterwards I was to live by collecting
cash from defaulted subscribers, while I made a thousand-mile tour within the month, preparing at leisure
a special edition, a lecture, a book, and a picture
Were there resources of land, minerals, or timber
tributary to this city of Spokane? Yes, there was
land, for I rode eight miles across naked desert before
I came to a farm. The citizen, producing naught,
held that land until the laboring community should
give it value, and where there was a farm he sucked
at the mortgage.   There was mineral, but the citizen,
I I [ m ] .1'"
producing nothing, must rob the discoverer, steal the
claim, and sell out. Meanwhile he convulsed the markets with speculation in his paper shares. There was
timber, but the citizen, producing nothing, arranged
for hewing away his own trees and burning his
neighbor's, until the mountains were stripped bare,
and the gentle rivers were changed to destructive torrents, spoiling the water powers and reducing profitable land to irreclaimable desert.
As I rode a rotten horse for a rotten editor, on behalf of a rotten city which was giving an " Exposition," slowly the word rolled over my tongue until,
catching its flavor, I spat. An Exposition? an exposure, a show-up, a dead give-away, the pricking of
a bubble, the bursting of a lie. In one large room of
that city I had found partitioned off some forty offices
of different firms. Sharing a watermelon among the
gang, I had asked them to put up a general signboard at the door, " The Robbers' Roost," or " The
Forty Thieves Limited," at which device they were
pleased. Three years ago when I passed Spokane by
train, I found that the poor boom city had never recovered from its Exposition, but visibly the place lay
shrunken and stagnant upon the dusty Plains.    For
[192] >.n THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   TRADER
twenty thousand people, having neither a book shop,
nor a decent bath, nor any manly games, had mistaken their venture in calling it an improvement upon
the desert. Vulgar, ignorant, unscrupulous, brave,
enterprising, and cheerful, they built in speculation,
not in labor, towers of dust to confront the winds of
For three days I rode heartsick upon my hopeless
venture, ashamed among the honest farmers at their
harvest. I had stooped to the cheap methods of cheap
men, become part of the froth upon the mighty waves
of American endeavor. Envious of Yankee smartness parading in diamonds while I went in debt, I had
been moved for just a week to play with rogues, and
trump their shallow game, knowing all the while that
a ferret can wriggle through smaller holes than a
swindler, a fox teach shyness to a thief, or a skunk
outbluff and outstink the worst of us. I had not the
stomach to play sucji games for long, and now went
sick with remorse along the sunny roads, envious of
American manliness at work in every field reaping
the wheat. But my heart was crying for the mountains, for the wilder country, the gentler men of the
camps.    At noon of the third day I wrote from a
[193]   j li
village to my Editor, saying that his skeleton was
feasting at the local stable, and might be collected on
payment of the bill. Preferring rather to be a man
on foot than a rogue on horseback, I set off to tramp
for the nearest mining camp.
The country was a flat desert, bounded by shimmering mists of intense heat, its equator the railroad,
and in the middle I found a house. There had been
nothing particular to eat, and only hot puddle to
drink, so to reach that section house for navvies was
worth a struggle. Also I had two half-dollars, and
much hope, when I knocked respectfully on the open
door. Saluting the woman inside with lifted hat, I
held out one of my coins, asking for a meal, at which
she screamed, snatched up her baby, and bolted.
I stood out and looked at myself. A cowboy hat,
a blue flannel shirt, blue canvas breeches, long boots
past their prime—and one dollar. Yes, she had
taken me for a tramp, for she shrieked, snatched, and
ran.    I was a tramp.
There was a " construction train " not far bevond
the house, which gave me food for one of the coins,
and a ride which continued more or less until three
o'clock the next morning, delivering me in reasonable
repair at Coeur d'Alene Lake. I tramped on all day
beside that lake, and up the river beyond. One wild
animal I met on the track, and crept past him safely
through a ditch, too poor to dispute the wray. He
was a skunk. The deer nicked their tails at me and
ran, because they were venison and I looked so hungry.
A family of cougars, papa, the missus, and the kids,
snuffed at me on a bush-trail in the dusk, for they
were famished and I smelt like food. At last, late in
the night, I saw lighted windows ahead, and so reached
a cluster of ruinous cabins known as the Old Mission.
Now I had resolved to be a photographer in the
Coeur d'Alene Mines, and was minded of a certain
hireling whom I had fed at Spokane and left in charge
of my baggage. He was a distressful and useless
object, but if he joined me at Old Mission the luggage
would do to pawn, and the youth might serve for a
partner. So for three days I fattened at the Old
Mission Hotel, running up a bill most patiently,
while the hireling at Spokane, having endowed himself with all my worldly goods, blandly decamped.
It was a queer hole, the Old Mission, where I was
fattening against future need. When the daily train
drew up, a gambler used to attend on the platform
[ 195 ]
with a thimble-rig outfit and a pile of gold. Then his
three partners came to play against him, winning
at every guess, filling their pockets with wealth.
Sometimes a passenger, seeing their luck, would venture a twenty-dollar piece. He lost. A most respectable gentleman was that gambler, in clean linen,
frock-coat, top-hat, and a benevolent smile; but I
think my inquisitive presence watching the game began to annoy him after the second day, and so the
whisper spread that I was a spy. On the third day
I was openly accused in the barroom, and my laughter at the charge turned to a sickly grin when I found
out how real was the suspicion.
That Indian Reservation, which I had crossed
afoot, was on a near date to be thrown open by Congress as public land free to all comers. On its western edge the farmers had gathered, led by a Mr.
Truax, ready for a big rush and scramble to seize the
ground. Coming from thence, I had blundered into
an evil crowd of gamblers and desperadoes waiting
on the eastern edge to drive the farmers away by
force of arms, and themselves capture the Reservation
as Mineral Lands. I was therefore a spy from the
Truax gang, and the crowd determined to lynch me.
'    [196] THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   TRADER
It wars very awkward. The least movement towards an escape would certainly hasten the crisis;
I was in pawn at the hotel; my camera, endeared to me
by so many similar associations, had fallen a prey to
the landlord; and, worst of all, was my nerve-shattering alarm at the very idea of being lynched. That
extreme sensibility to peril may be safely cherished
as an inward grace, but on such occasions I always
want to screech. It would never do, the very littlest
privy expression of feeling meant the embarrassment
of a necktie under one of the telegraph posts outside. How was I to get my camera, evade the landlord, escape these desperadoes, and reach the woods?
A freight train was bustling about, ready to start
for the mines; the long-shadowed sun shone out from
behind a cloud, and that inspired cheek which has
guided me through life flashed the solution. I turned
with delight to the landlord. " Hello, here's the sun!
Get your family—come on, boys!—range up outside, gimme the camera—thanks—look pretty—we'll
have your photograph."
When an angry Providence bereaved mankind of
our tails, the piteous wound was salved with the gift
of vanity.    I got my camera, took a photographic
[ 197 ]
group of a benevolent landlord, a brushed-up family,
and some beaming desperadoes, then with a hurried
good-by caught my train at a run. Afterwards they
understood, but the train had swung round a corner
before they could fire.
Presently the Conductor came along the empty flat
cars, discovered me, and demanded a bribe. Otherwise he would pitch me off according to custom, and
getting thrown off trains is almost as bad as being
hanged. " Will you ? " said I. There is a philosophy of clothes, and the most hardened blackguard
on the American railwavs has a wholesome fear of
cowboys. As the Chinese terrify their enemies with
paper tigers and wooden guns, so I always wear a cowboy hat on the Frontier, and the Conductor doubted
whether it would be quite wise to indulge in a
" I'll let you off," he said, " at one dollar."
I had half a dollar, but no passion for sacrifice, so
I got him to stand on the jumping flat car while I
made believe to take his photograph.    " I charge a
dollar, so that's all right."    And it was so.
Late that evening the gravel train swung into
Wallace, the capital of the Cceur d'Alene Mines.   The
[198] |
^|&-g$2*^3g9|a|^£ THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   TRADER
town was then a place of fifteen hundred people^
jammed at the meeting of four gulches in the heart
of the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho. Just a month
ago it had been totally wiped out by fire, but Western
towns seem never to feel quite well until they have had
their spring cleaning. Certainly Wallace was
" booming." The masons and carpenters were working double time, the canyon rang with constant noise
of hammers, and, on the sixtieth day from the fire,
the ground was covered not only with tents and
shanties, but a litter of wooden houses and solid brick
buildings all alike completed.
Winter was setting in, and on the frosty night of
my arrival I spent much time considering how to make
my last half-dollar suffice for supper, bed, and breakfast.
Driven for lack of a coat to seek shelter, I was in
Denver Shorty's gambling-hell, subtly plotting economies, when my thoughts were distracted by a puzzling movement of the crowd. A man held a slip of
paper in front of a gas jet, loudly challenging all
comers to read what was written thereon. The words,
written backwards, were easy enough to scan—why
should   all  these   idiots   be   wrapped   in   bewildered
[ 199 ] EV
silence?   Scornfully I read out the phrase, " What—
will—you—take? j
| Beer!" answered the man with the paper;
1 Whisky, in mine," said another; " Wall, stranger,
since you allude to the drinks," a third man saluted
me gravely, " I think mine shall be a John Collins."
I Cocktail!" chirped a fourth. I had invited fifty
men to drink with me. Slow, sad, severe, I left that
warm saloon, no longer plotting economies. The
supper, the bed, and the breakfast had flicked off beyond my horizon.
For three days I lived on my camera, which fetched
three dollars, but when that was all eaten up there had
to be some sort of crisis. For so respectable a community, where bartenders and gamblers corruscated
with diamonds, a tramp with no coat to his back had
not the least chance of employment. So I went to the
City Marshal. Would he request the Spokane police
to collect the useless object who had sequestered my
baggage ?
i Why, certainly," said the Marshal. " Meanwhile,
young man, have you remarked that we're having a right smart snap of winter? Just you stray
over  to   that  dry-goods   store   on   the   corner,   rig
yourself out with a suit of store-clothes, and tell them
to charge it to me."
I could not accept, but I have never forgotten.
My baggage was gathered in by the Spokane
police, and, better still, a magazine editor remitted me
twenty dollars for some published ballads. The
magazine was soon swamped in bankruptcy, but meanwhile I was bloated with sudden wealth, no longer
the tramp hunting for a job, but a capitalist seeking
investments. The drink business was full up with
fifty-five saloons, and the gambling-hells, dance-
houses, and theater met all local requirements.
There was in the whole place but one boarded sidewalk, where free American citizens could walk secure
from being drowned in the mud-holes. This densely
crowded pavement was continued across a wooden
bridge spanning the Cceur d'Alene River, and beyond
that a railway skirted the bank, walled on the farther
side by precipice. A thousand men came daily to
that bridge for fresh air, and the solace of spitting
into the river. Just in midstream the bridge made a
slight turn, forming an angle. It would be easy to
throw a plank across that angle and hang on outside, dealing with mankind over the handrail. There
1 [201]
was the best business-stand in the Coeur d'Alene
Mines, and it had escaped the attention of traders.
The City Marshal would not object—we consulted
over a cocktail; the county was pacified, for I bought
a five-dollar license; but there remained the Committee
of Public Safety, pledged to lynch bad men and to
pitch out tramps like me. I called on Dan, Chairman
of the Vigilance Committee.
" Where ? " he yelped.
" The bridge," said I, very humbly.
" You can't trade on the bridge."
" Don't want to.    Whose is the air over the river ? "
" If vou want to trade there, take out a license
from Heaven.
" Will you interfere? "
" No, I guess not. We never interfere outside our
In his capacity as a merchant, Dan sold me a stock
of cigars; and with the Vigilance Committee for a
friend one can commit all the crimes in the calendar.
Next day, with a plank for a perch, hanging in midair above ice-drift and rolling bowlders, I peddled
cigars across the handrail, but certainly was not trad-
ing on the forbidden bridge. The original plank
spanning the angle grew piece by piece into a platform, then I got two packing-cases, slung by wire
nails from the rail, which served as counters for an increasing stock. To keep out the worst of the wind
I contrived slight walls at the back and sides, to preserve my wares from the snow a roof poised overhead. Next came a dog-hole door under the rail,
sliding panels of glass to close in the front, a stove
for comfort, bedding to roll down on the floor, a
kitchen equipment. At first the house had hind-legs
reaching down into the river, but the question arose
as to whether those limbs rested on the town land,
county land, stood in the State of Idaho, or were
amenable to the discipline of the United States. I
cut away those compromising hind-legs, and with
them went all danger of being dragged from my nest
by ice-drift, together with questions of rent, rates,
and taxes. Such levies could hardly be exacted from
a house which occupied no human rights. The weight
was so adjusted that the house poised itself without
strain, swaying easily as a bird's nest in the wind,
jumping gracefully when a cart shook the fragile
At the end of six weeks I was free of all debt, with
plenty of credit, and one hundred and fifty dollars'
worth of stock in fruit, tobacco, and sweets, laid by
from my profits.
By way of advertisement I displayed a blackboard,
daily renewed with hieroglyphic designs, in the ancient Egyptian style, relating to topics of the day,
also doggerel verses, and in all the saloons rude devices painted with ink, which purposed to show kittens
smoking my cigars, babies crying for them, pelicans
stealing them, and desperadoes in full flight to elude
the strength of their fumes. I was clearing three
dollars and seventy-five cents a day.
All these matters were observed by a certain tough
who hung out at Denver Shorty's gambling-hell three
doors off. This ingenious gentleman got a couple
of pine trees stripped, squared, and thrown across the
river just behind my house, the ends resting on either
bank. On these timbers he began to run up a commodious wooden building, a saloon. He laid his floor
the whole width of the river, erected his scantling, and
began to fill in the walls. But he had no possible
frontage, so he went to the City Council, offering at
his own charges to widen the bridge up to the foot
of his wall. The City consented, and I was to be
His timbers committed a gross trespass to the northward upon the Railway Company's embankment, and
to the southward on the land of a tame German saloonkeeper. I tried to persuade these injured and aggrieved parties to saw through the offending logs and
drop Long Shorty's premises into the river. Unhappily the desperado was handy with a gun, and the
victims did not feel sufficiently affronted. Moreover,
my enemy was a citizen of the Republic, but I was
only an effete and depraved alien Britisher, with no
rights in heaven, or earth, or the waters which rolled
But the City Marshal was also a witness to these
matters, and he it was who moved the Vigilance Committee to a wide-sweeping movement against such
crooks, thieves, deadbeats, and desperadoes as were not
holders of property.
It was quite time, for on the average seven persons
a night were clubbed in the streets, or drugged in the
brothels and robbed—indeed, one went abroad after
dusk with a revolver in the side-pocket and forefinger
ready on the trigger.    So one day the leading citizens
[ 205 ]
) i
gathered in twenty-five prominent criminals, and
herded them down the gulch. All who ventured back
were to be riddled at sight, and those few who argued
were promptly thrown into the river. For the rest
of the day there was but one salutation in the streets:
" Where did you hide ? "
Long Shorty went like a lamb, and all seemed well
with the world. Then came the Baring crash in London, which smashed all our local banks. Half our
population fled from the disaster-stricken town, my
profits went down to sixteen cents a day, and I was
constrained to fill up gaps in my system with a stick
of candy for breakfast and a cigar for lunch.
To go back a few paces:
During my summer in Kootenay I had encountered
the Little Blackguard, a swarthy Cornish miner. He,
being very drunk, and mysteriously furtive, desired a
business interview. Once settled down in my tent with
a cigar he seemed not quite so drunk, but more furtively mysterious than ever. I wras, he protested, the
smartest man in the camp. Why so? Because I
talked such infernal rot about mining that I completely disguised my real and genuine knowledge.
This was very smart, also the prospector's dress, a
[ 206 ] THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   TRADER
capital imitation—in fact, nobody had seen through
me except himself. Of course I was the expert representing some huge English syndicate. At my denials
he winked with gravity. He had a business proposition to make.
"Is it honest?"
" Sir, itsh a business proposition."
"But honest?"
" Sir, it is a legitimate businesh prop's'hon."
" Shir, I tell yew itsh a puffeckly l'git'mit bushi-
nesh prop'op's'hon."
11 see."
He never broached the proposition, and that night
skipped the country, pursued.
I was still at the height of my brief prosperity in
the Cceur d'Alene, when, boarding a local train, I
met the Little Blackguard, who at once greeted me as
the man who was much too honest to live. Yes, he
would tell me the nature of that mysterious and
furtive affair. He had been sent by a Smelting Company as expert to report on the Queen Victoria copper
claims, and his first move won, for the Noble Five who
owned them,  a handsome " option" in cash.    His
private conviction was that their great crag of copper
ore on the mountain-side was worth about ten cents.
Anyway, his employers of the Smelting Company nibbled, but failed to bite, so, with a view to waking them
up, the Little Blackguard came to me with a proposition. I was to be a bogus expert, and make a bogus
purchase of the copper claims. This " straw bond "
he would palm off on the Smelting Company for
twenty thousand dollars, and we were then to divide
the plunder.
His rascality set me thinking.
" Where are you bound for ? " I asked.
" The Gem Mine.    I'm going to start a saloon."
1 Do you know you're an infernal blackguard ? "
I That's no dream," he said gravely.
I Will you make it a general store," I went on,
and come into partnership with me ? "
I You wouldn't trust me? "
1 Sonny, you're blackguard enough to deal with
these Gem miners." I did not think him smart enough
to cheat me.
I'll go you, partner," said he.
I must revert here to my liability to be mistaken
for something dangerous, a spy, for instance, or a
mining shark. As a special correspondent I was once
in course of a single day mistaken for a cowboy, a
doctor, a farm hand, and a prospector. I have been
identified as Lefroy, the murderer, and Swiftwater
Bill, the desperado. Once I was caught spying in
a Russian fortress, and only escaped Siberia by passing myself off as a lunatic. I was spying, but I
passed very well indeed as a lunatic. In London I
was once cheered for a Royal Highness, and in Wallace I was known to be the outlaw who had lately in
Montana, single-handed, stopped and robbed an express train. That reputation at the Gem Mine,
coupled with the peculiar furtiveness of my new partner, would make a fine business combination. The
whole Cceur d'Alene was famed for cowardly ruffianism, but the Gem miners were so much the worst, that
all my repute as an outlaw, and all the Little Blackguard's watchfulness, scarce made it safe to locate
in their town for business.
The mine Management had a general store noted
for extortion, and any miner who bought his goods
elsewhere lost his job by way of punishment. Naturally the Miners' Union was incensed, and any men
who dared to set up a rival business would get the
[209] ii
whole of their trade in defiance of the Management.
Then either the Miners' Union store must be destroyed,
or the mine closed for lack of hands. Two merchants
of Wallace had offered me plenty of capital if I would
open a general store at Gem. Before the train made
that three-mile journey my partner had promised to
become a member of the Gem Union, and introduce my
proposals to the miners. A long, eager nose was once
more pulling me into trouble.
In the evening I waited, kicking my heels in a
saloon until nearly midnight, before the Little Blackguard came out from the Gem Union meeting. There
were graver affairs than mine discussed that night. A
strike conspiracy was organized, which two years later
flamed out into civil war. Knowing nothing of that, I
was wonder-struck when at last my partner re-entered
the saloon, ashen-white, trembling all over. He could
not, dared not explain, but had mentioned my business
to two gentlemen who would presently wait upon me.
Indeed, while we were still talking, two miners strolled
into the saloon dressed in the usual pea-jackets, slouch
hats, and long boots. " This," said my partner, presenting me, " is the man who's too honest to live."
I laughed as I shook hands.    " This," I responded
[ 210 ] THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   TRADER
cheerfully, " is the gentleman who got run out of
The Little Blackguard chuckled at the compliment.
Not so the two gentlemen. I had insulted their
" friend," and, turning on theii heels, they walked
off, declining my acquaintance. " There now,"
said my partner, " you've done it! You've insulted
the President and Secretary of the Miners' Union."
So I went back to my bridge at Wallace, and the
whole proposal fell to the ground—a scheme which
would have involved me in an atrocious conspiracy.
Two years later these gentlemen and their followers
captured the twelve managing officers of the Gem
Mine, herded them, shackled, through the gulch, took
them to a lonely place, and there shot them down in
cold blood. One man, badly wounded, escaped by
swimming the river and hiding in the woods. So
began the Reign of Terror of 1892, so grave a business that United States troops had to surround the
Cceur d'Alene District before they could put a stop to
the butchery.
Miners of silver, caterers to supply their needs,
parasites preying on their vices; these, in perhaps
equal numbers, peopled the six towns of Coeur d'Alene.
9m I [ 211 ]
And this district had its being under the Laws of the
United States, which are the Laws of the English
seven times purified. The French-Indian voyageurs
of old-time Canada discovered this lake and river in
the remotest fastnesses of the Continent, and named
them Cceur d'Alene. Now the law, seven times illumined with a rainbow glory, fell softly as rain upon
this Heart of a Flint, and made not the slightest impression. Copious rain of the law, drought of obedience, that is the mournful issue in many parts of the
During my hibernating after the collapse of the
town of Wallace, when I had little to live on and
sucked my paws like a bear, my friends with one
voice begged me to accept a United States citizenship.
What manner of citizenship would it be? One had
to judge of that from current examples. For instance, a leading citizen, with a large, floppy necktie
and agreeable manners at church socials, had for
partner a livery-stable keeper, and for property,
among other things, an empty piece of land up the
gulch. This tract was called the Y, and the Leading
Citizen had no title to it except his broken-down fence.
It was not his land by law.    But there came an old
[212] |     I THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   TRADER
man with his son, who, prompted by a prominent desperado, saw fit to jump the Y and build a cabin
thereon. The Leading Citizen got his partner to
aid, went up to the Y, and found the old man and his
son hard at work. He began by shooting the old man
and clubbing the son. Badly wounded, and desperate
over the seeming death of his boy, the father fought
both assailants with a lion courage. He got one bullet into the Livery man before the Leading Citizen of
the floppy necktie and the agreeable manners inflicted
four more wounds, all of them mortal. So the old
man lay by the unfinished cabin, his white hair bloody,
his face to heaven, dead, victim of deliberate willful
murder, I happened to be passing, and joined the
crowd of men which gathered silent about the body,
when the Coroner appeared on the scene. " Well,"
said the Coroner, kicking the murdered man, " he's
dead anyway."    The crowd laughed.
Two hours afterwards I strolled into the magistrate's office, where the murderer and the Judge, the
Livery man and the witnesses, were sitting round the
stove, spitting reflectively on its hot cylinder. The
murderer was relating his recent experience blandly,
as one might recount details of some church social.
An hour later that Leading Citizen was at large, doing
his usual business, and was not thereafter disturbed
by any formalities of the law. Should I be honored
by an American citizenship? There was no justice
within the scope of the law, but yet, outside of official
machinery, there might be at least fair play.
A miner came down from the hills. He owned a
town lot which had been swept bare in the burning of
Wallace, and, having saved sufficient money, proposed
to renew the fence. No protection of law had saved
his land from being stolen by a couple of Germans,
who had built their cabin on the lot. To oust those
Germans by law he would have to bribe the authorities, and, perhaps, be driven from court to court, appealing until he was beggared. He went to the Vigilance Committee, which, being an unlawful body, descended on those Germans like a whirlwind, pitched
them into a pond, tore the cabin down, and scattered
the remnants over the public streets.
There were, then, some rudiments of fair play despite the Laws? That hope was very soon shattered.
A Railway Company, lacking sufficient space for their
yards, sent men in the dead of the night and jumped
one of the main thoroughfares of the town.    In the
[ 214 ] THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   TRADER
morning the people found their street stolen, occupied
throughout by a railroad siding. Led by a saloonkeeper, who presented a keg of whisky for refreshments, the people assembled, wrecked a freight car
across the line, and began to tear up the track. The
Railway Company brought forward a train bearing
three hundred men armed with rifles, but these, kept
out of range by the wrecked truck, had to retire. By
evening the people had cleared the street for traffic.
Before next morning the track had been renewed, and
was covered with heavy trains impossible to displace.
Then the people realized that the merchants of the
street had been squared by the railway thieves. Those
merchants were members of the Committee of Public
Safety, the only hope of fair play left for men in
My friends were grave in their warnings: " You'd
better take citizenship."
" I have taken the special military and civil oaths
in Her Majesty's service."
" Oh, that's all right! Renounce them, you've got
to, anyway, or jou can't be a citizen here."
" What a noble thing to have at the mere cost of
" Well, there are fees, too."
" And this perjured oath is good enough? Perjury
is a felony. What a wide net you spread to get
" Oh, we don't want you! It's for your sake.
Why, you don't belong to any secret societies, you've
got no political friends, no money, you've had three
gun troubles here already. What if you kill a man?
Why, they'll make an example of you! "
" I see. By committing perjury I get a license
to murder.     What a citizenship ! "
Oh, but I expected too much. I must not be so
bigoted. This Republic was immense, not hedged
like my native parish, effete, sluggish, unprogress-
My native parish is wider than all the seas, and
higher than the clouds; her ensign is a Holy Calvary
whereon three crosses shine for Justice, for Mercy,
for Good Faith. That freedom, that discipline, had
spoiled me for Liberty, Equality, Fraternity—and no
God to worship.
That was all rot! Couldn't I talk like a practical
man ? This Republic was a big, wild country, but not
yet settled down.
[ 216 ]
Canada was a bigger, wilder country, where men
went safe without a weapon, where aliens had human
rights, where Judges were not bribed, Legislators not
of the criminal classes, and honesty was not become
effete. Canada had spoiled me, made me accustomed
to deal with honorable men, healthy and clean, a
sterling coinage of manhood, not crumpled rags.
Already I had tested the methods of American
" smartness," fouled my honor, pitched the filth aside,
and washed my hands, disgusted. When that small
change has all been discredited, the " word of an
Englishman " will still be taken at par on the world's
It was a decided nuisance being an alien with no
rights to worry me, beggared gradually by the
people's enmity towards everything English. The
necessity of holding one's own with a revolver is
specially obnoxious to a bad marksman, and most
Britishers find the American code of dueling—kill at
sight—rather too brusque to appeal to our sense of
sport. For instance, a bad man robbed me, and was
so extremely rude about it that I had to take notice.
Living under an anarchy, possessed of no human
rights, one has to take notice in person, and I was
/'fy H
too badly crippled to punch the gentleman's head.
There remained the duel, so I got an Englishman from
the Tiger Mine to act as my second. He lent me his
revolver, but as we walked down to the scene of the
trouble there arose the question of cartridges. I
hesitated. " Could you use cartridges on—that sort
of man? Dueling's pretty low down—but to kill—I
couldn't do it."
" Well," he scratched his ear; " if it were me	
Why, you couldn't show up at Home—in your club,
say—and admit having killed men that way! One
must draw the line somewhere."
So we came to the gentleman, and I asked him
pointedly for his apology. He had an ax. For a
long moment I watched his slow eye travel round from
chamber to chamber of the empty cylinder of my gun,
then glitter as his glance bored up towards mine along
the sights, with perfect understanding. Then drop-
ing the ax, he let me off with two black eyes and a
bloody nose, a generous " satisfaction" which confirmed my distaste for the odious practice of dueling.
The biggest thing I ever killed was a lame crow, and
I would prefer a dozen thrashings to the afterthoughts of a murderer.
[218] ■B     -awv. ,-,n--i'Jw**w^
When the spring came, the " Man on the Bridge "
was having a rather bad time. What business remained was on credit, candv for breakfast, a cigar
for luncheon, and of several customers only one paid
up. She was a Sister of Sorrow, worn out, in rags,
dying. Many a night, hungry for a kind word, she
would come, braving the bitter cold upon the bridge
to smoke a cigarette, and stand at my window sulky,
half defiant, while we gossiped. The men chaffed her
roughly, the " good " women passed by sniffing on the
other side of the way, the black gales drenched her
with sleet, the river grumbled on ice and bowlders
For long she had kept her " man," her tough she
called him, but now that she was dying, her purse
failed his needs, he deserted her, moving to another
town down the gulch. Word came to her of him—
he was shot in a gun-fight, and then she sold her
bed, her cabin, all that was left, to pay for his
From my place on the bridge I looked out day after
day, week after week, for her return; at night, thinking I heard her footstep, I would get up to peer
through the windows; but the winter broke, the trees
[ 219 ]
budded, the river rolled ice and bowlders with the
spring floods, and she came back no more. Bowlders
and ice—I wonder still at times—waters raging for
the sea—had she found her rest with them down
towards the sea—rest from her sorrow ?
■fc^s^	 THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   DIS-
1 C O U R A G E D
THE summer came, and by coach, by train, or
afoot I wandered for months through settlements of farmers in Idaho, Washington,
and Oregon, the three realms of the Columbia valley.
I lived by painting photographs, sometimes by lecturing, never much in demand, but keeping more or less
alive. Sympathetic acquaintances would often tell
me that they set aside the general theory of my being
a lunatic, but would like to know why I did not settle
down and get rich.
" Settle down? " The words vaguely suggested to
me pleasures of social intercourse, of thought, letters,
the arts, of athletic exercise, of bathing. For such
peculiarities they would have lodged me in the county
asylum. " Get rich? " The political and business
methods of the country were not alluring. I could
not explain, it would be rude, and the sympathetic
acquaintance would walk away, thoughtfully tapping
his forehead.
So I went blundering on, hoping to keep alive
through this semi-civilized and admired region until
I could come once more to people who would regard
me as human, outcasts like me, frontiersmen.
We English were savages once, ten thousand years
ago—don't you remember? We tracked the Mammoth north to the skirts of the ice, trapped them where
they fed in the swamps, followed them southward in
the autumn, lighted our winter fire upon the tribal
camp-ground, and when rival tribes got in our way
there was slaying. The old spirit moves us to
migrate, we burn still with untamable, inextinguishable savagery, abhorring floor, walls, and roof—the
entire house of civilized restraint. We ask, we adventurers, the earth for our bed, the stars for our
clock, the morning chill for our reveille, the ends of
the earth for our portion, and in the path of our
world-grabbing savagery the shuttles of Fate are
weaving the fabric of Empire.
Of all the trails I must not leave out that of the
Discouraged, but will make it quite short.
Wandering southward in quest of the Wilderness,
leaving a track of pawned baggage, I came at last to
a town where, from bitter experience, the hotel men
demanded cash in advance from strangers. Nobody
wanted to be lectured, nobody cared for painted photographs, there was no employment offered, and the
streets were dangerously infested with tramps. Just
beyond lay the Wilderness, if I could only win there.
It was very hot, indeed the thermometers were demoralized, recording hysterically anything up to 106°
before they burst; and for three days I was out hunting for work, any kind of work. On the third day I
had a bad fainting-fit, and in the afternoon, while
talking business with a citizen, broke down and cried
like a coward. I don't know why, but vaguely remember resenting the length of his beard. I was past
hunger, getting very weak. Ten years I had earned
my bread, now at the age of twenty-five my hair had
begun to turn gray, and I was tired. There are indeed tides in the affairs of men, and this was the end
of the ebb, the dead slack. Had there been no change
I suppose I should have taken to drink. The Trail
of the Discouraged passes into that gate, and those
who enter there leave Hope behind.
The citizen of the long beard lent me a quarter for
[ 223 ]
food.    Then the tide stirred, which soon was to begin
rising, and is now in full flood.
That evening I called on a local editor, to whom I
offered my services as special correspondent. He
read steadily while I laid proposals before him,
snapped out some words of disgust at the clients of
his journal, and went on reading. In a monotonous
voice I condoled with him for having such clients, with
the subscribers who suffered such an editor. I left
him still reading. Next day I sent the local banker
to condole with him for having missed the chance of
getting me.
" Wilkins the Printer "; so read the signboard over
a shanty, and within I discovered the printer, the
printer's devil, and the editor of a forlorn little weekly
paper. It was such a very little paper that two hundred copies would make a proud edition; and the
subscribers were people who could have paid up in
bear meat or potatoes much easier than with
" Please" would I sit down ? How strange it
sounded, that sweet word of courtesy! The tramp
sat down with a gulp of astonishment. " Why,
thanks! "    Then, turning to the  Editor:    " From
New England, I think ? " " Boston," he answered,
smiling. I had not met a gentleman for so long.
" Do you take an interest in such things as mere subscribers? Yes? You must be eccentric journalists!
I want you to send a man to visit them in the Wilderness, to put their names in the paper, and praise their
lone fight with difficulties, to place their needs on
record, their hopes, their ventures, to tell the public
of chances for making money, of investments for capital. I want to win you new subscribers, to move the
reticent who have not paid arrears. Will you send
me as your special correspondent? "
Those rare men had the courage to engage a special
correspondent for a paper with two hundred subscribers, and it is pleasant to remember editions of
five thousand copies brought within the range of their
enterprise. The rival paper gnashed its teeth over
those issues.
We bought a horse, an Old Gentleman, white with
the ashes of extinct vices, tired of life, but still much
annoyed by a sore back. We had a saddle made to
suit this last infirmity of a noble ruin, and I carried
a bag of salt to heal the sores. Then the Old Gentleman slouched off with me into the Wilderness.    We
[ 225 ]
climbed out of the heat into forest whose cool glades
seemed like enchanted waters wholly made of perfume,
whose coral-red trunks went up into wavy green,
whose brown floor of pine-needles floated off into
swaths of anemones, while the Old Gentleman and I
played at being mermaids, the jeweled hummingbirds our escort, and the air about us was thrilled with
bird songs of tireless ecstasy.
Down in the valleys the women were so rich that
they lay on couches, their very skin like gold—yellow,
and wan children gasped complaints in the sweltering
verandas. Here on the hills the people were poor;
ruddy, winsome mothers, children bursting with
health and mischief, men who could not let a stranger
pass without boasting to him of glorious things
in the future. And on beyond the settlements,
by winding trails, we climbed to the alps above,
the meadows between timber line and the snow,
pastures of heaven starred with constellations of
We scrambled along edges of the cliffs whose bases
were hid in cloud, over stern wastes of rock and drifted
snow, even to those last high crags, glazed by the
lightning, where mortal summits brave the immortal
sky, and earthly brows are touched by the fingers of
God.    Holy and beautiful are those hills, and there
was given me salt to harden my sores.
The cowboys rode miles to show me the way, prospectors took offense unless I stayed over night, sheep-
herders were slighted if a leg of mutton proved too
much for my supper. The Old Gentleman took me
from the white crests into purple-red, fiery-heated
canyons, where down in the bases of the world the
rattlesnakes lay drowsily hoping for incautious flies.
I was prospecting for mercury and for opals, and
found men opening lead mines under the foundations
of the lava.
Among the high summits I came one day to a mine
which had been manipulated by London financiers, for
the robbing of widows and orphans. The closing of
this good mine had ruined the reputation of the district, and the gentleman now in possession lived alone,
a hermit among big ruins. He led me into the tunnels, walking gingerly under timbering, rotten, bending inwards, from whence white hands of fungus
reached at us. To balance myself I had set my little
finger against a beam, when, looking back, my guide
cried in a tense whisper:
" For God's sake, don't!" He was pale, sweat-
shaken, because I had touched that beam, and not
daring even to whisper any more, we went on climbing
over debris where the roof had fallen, until we came
to a winze leading down to the lower works. Before
venturing farther we lowered a candle into this hole
and the light went out. The breath of life would
have gone out if we had entered there. And now
we heard behind us a distant crash with long-resounding echoes. Had the whole tunnel collapsed? Were
we prisoners ? We dared not run, but crept down the
long gallery where white hands seemed to reach at
our throats. At last we could see the entry, where
there should have been daylight, only to find black
darkness. Then the darkness was lighted by an instant blue glare, followed by a deafening peal of
thunder. The night had fallen, a storm was raging
since we had entered the mine, and we came reeling
out of the tunnel, inwardly thanking Heaven that we
were not entombed. At the entrance we were deafened, blinded, stunned by the mountain storm which
blasted a tree upon the slopes below us, and seemed to
shake the ground on which we stood. Only while the
lightning blazed could we see our way, halting be-
tween the flashes, in utter darkness, until we gained
the shelter of the house.
It was at the foot of this mountain that I came
next day to Granite, a town of three people, hotel-
keeper, saloonkeeper, and storekeeper, the other
twenty-six being absent cutting a new trail. I had
been fed, and was inquiring for Greenhorn Mountain,
when a young man rode up to the saloon armed with
rifle, revolver, bowie-knife, and a black scowl. He
was bound, he told me, towards Greenhorn Mountain,
and would just buy a bottle of pickles and one of
whisky before starting. With my last dollar I conformed to etiquette by providing a bottle of whisky
for myself, then, as we rode off, Scowl opened his
quart of pickles, and used his bowie for a fork. When
he had eaten the last pickle, he remarked that he was
camp-tender to three flocks of sheep, and that his
whisky was for number two herder. My whisky being
disengaged, I drew the cork. He drank at length,
but when my turn came my tongue stopped the neck
of the bottle—my friend carried too much artillery.
His second and third drinks were copious, mine a delusion.
" Partner," said he, " you mistrust me.'
I        fl
" I'll show you how much," said I, taking a real
We were riding through bull-pine forest in the
gloaming, and in all I had three mouthfuls of that
wonderful liquor before it knocked me out of the
saddle. When I recovered consciousness, I found
myself on the flat of my back alone under the stars,
wondering who I was, and where I came from, but
presently feeling cougars close by me, got up and
made a fire. So I lay listening to the great cats singing, while the stars wheeled through their course, and
in the break of dawn saw Mr. Scowl searching the
woods for me. He came at my call, explaining that
I had been dragged by one foot from the stirrup,
and he too drunk to rescue me from almost certain
death. Our horses were lost, but he would track them
down, and I must wait for him in the sheep camp close
at hand.
All through the morning I sat in the sheep camp
with the herder, and at noon Mr. Scowl came back
afoot, reporting his tracking a failure. Convinced
that he had robbed me, I sat sulking by the campfire
through the afternoon, but at dusk Scowl rode into
camp triumphantly drunk, leading my horse.    After
[ 230 ]
supper we hit the trail, leading seven mules, tied head
and tail, on the way to number three sheep camp, and
through many weary hours went stumbling onward
through the pitch-black woods, over mire, roots, deadfall, thorn, and underbrush, until at two in the morning we came out upon clear ground. Scowl's scouting had been wonderful, his progress festive, and his
joyousness was unabated at the sight of four small
fires along the ridge ahead.
" To keep off cougars," he explained in whispers.
" My herder here's the biggest coward west of the
Rockies, and I'm going to scare his soul out. You
just hark!"
He purred like a cat, his clear voice lifting slowly,
easily, to the grand sustained battle-cry of a nine-
foot cougar. A flash of light blazed out from between the guard fires, a bullet came whizzing between
us, and I coughed.
" You're scared!" said my friend derisively, and
we rode on into the camp. We ate half a sheep between us, then slept, and in the morning I went on,
rather glad to be alone in the big woods, scouting for
Greenhorn Mountain.
I might tell many tales of wonderful gold-mines
and strange breeds of men, but pleasantest of all to
remember were the several nights when, lost in the
forest, I would light my fire of pine-cones, hobble the
Old Gentleman, and listen for hours to the love-songs,
the war-chants, the triumph-pagans of the cougars.
Their eyes glowed green and flame when they crept
near, smelling up wind to find out if I were injurious,
then they would go away into the shadows and purr
to say they were pleased. Of course, had I been a
sheep, I might have felt prejudice, or were I a hunter,
been excited by lithe nine-foot cats within such easy
range; but I only felt like a trespasser on their
preserves. The cougars might have had the Old
Gentleman, but seeing him too thin even to cast a
shadow, were perhaps fastidious. So I would sleep
until that evil-minded vagrant tried to desert, then,
missing the clank of his hobbles, wake up and chase
him home. He had his two-hours' nap just before
dawn, and thought me a decided drawback when—
clear canary light shining between black trees—I saddled him once more to lope off questing for a breakfast.
The work was done, I was on the home-trail, riding
slowly through the ripe wheat of the outermost set-
tlement, and I thought the Old Gentleman must be
dying. His back was quite healed, and with no grievance left to live for, he had resolved to pass away
into cats'-meat of doubtful quality, when a lad well
mounted joined us out of the wheatfields. We swung
abreast and made friends, the young horse promptly
challenging the old to a scamper. The Old Gentleman shyly resisted, longing to show off, afraid for his
reputation as an invalid. Distant smoke had appeared, chimneys ahead, a wooden spire—he knew
that place, had been there before! He snuffled,
pointed his ears, winked at the young horse, damned
his repute as an invalid, kicked up his heels, and broke
for that village at full gallop. We rolled in with
high tails through the dust, and reined hard in the
village street just as a smart team of bays drew up
by the little hotel. Surely I knew that man in the
buggy—the local banker from town?
" Hello!" he cried, " well met! We've had no
news of you for three weeks—thought the cougars
had got you—going to send out a search party. So
you're safe, and homeward bound! "
" Bringing my sheaves with me."
" Why, our town's just crazy about you.    All sorts
of cablegrams for you from England, money in my
bank for you from London—your luck's changed with
a vengeance!    Com'n-'av-a-drink! "
Fifty-five ringing miles down through the forests,
and out on the lava plains, brought the Old Fraud,
frisky with renewed youth, back to the place where his
withers had been torn raw, back home to town. With
a yell I reined before the shanty, and out came Wil-
kins the Printer, the human editor, and the printer's
devil, to my immense relief all quite in good health,
after what seemed like years and years since I left
them. Yes, there were sheaves of subscriptions, reams
of copy, and another month's work in the farming
districts would make my campaign complete. Oh,
but there were telegrams, letters, money in the bank,
all sorts of things i
Let me skip that last month and come to the point
when the Printer, the Editor, and the Devil got rid
of me for good. By the telegrams, the letters, and
the money in the bank, it appeared that an old book
published some years ago had been approved by a
mighty critic in London, that two short stories had
been accepted by some Olympian editor, and that I
was called home to a country where writers are not
' I [ 234 ]
always starved.    A trade at last, the glory of craftsmanship, my life's ambition realized.    I should tread
no more the Trail of the Discouraged, take my discharge from the dusty ranks of the Lost Legion.
A sorry-looking wayfarer, with ragged overalls,
long boots, clanking, rusty spurs, a red cotton handkerchief loose round the neck, a lean, bronzed face
half hid by a drooping sombrero, I rode for the last
time through the town and said good-by to the Old
Fraud at his home stable. Then I took off the spurs.
So, in the devious manner of my tribe, taking in all
possible scenery and discomforts upon the way, the
Frontier all behind, the World ahead, I drifted gradually—Home.
[235] XIV
BACK in London again, I tried to rest contented by the fireside, praying for trouble,
miserable at being left out of the Klondike
rush.    Two chums shared chambers with me in Great
Ormond Street.    H  mourned for his old saddle
on the Frontier, and pretended to read for the Bar.
Mr. M had lately been captured with a shipload
of arms, at war with the Chinese Empire, and, sorely
grieved at having missed a throne, was writing novels.
Other fellows used to drop in for hot whisky and a
pipe, who yarned of ivory raids beyond the Congo,
of golden beaches in Patagonia, trading with cannibal blacks in North Australia, gun-running in Morocco, warships bought for mysterious foreigners, or
smuggling liquor up near Hudson's Bay. London is
Headquarters for the Lost Legion.
One night, as we plotted mischief by the fire, I
broached plans for an Expedition, inventing as I went
on, amid a storm of derision.    To make the sequel
clear I must give these plans. In a previous chapter
I have mentioned that in the days before the success
of Atlantic cables, an Overland Telegraph was projected between New York and St. Petersburg.
Twenty-two years after that enterprise was abandoned a pack-train of mules left the Canadian Pacific
Railway at Ashcroft, B. C, and followed the old
Telegraph trail to the Skeena River. This was in
1889, just after I left my Mission on the Skeena, and
my pious Gaetkshians got up on their hind-legs for
war against mules and drivers. They plundered that
Still, my old parishioners would not eat me; the
trail, much overgrown, and cumbered with telegraph
wire, had grass enough for a couple of pack-trains
a year, and a Gaetkshian guide would show me the
way to the Stickeen River. From Ashcroft to Telegraph Creek on the Stickeen would be one thousand
Now it was only another seven hundred and fifty
miles on from the Stickeen to the Klondike. The
Canadian Government was pledged to start a service
of steamers up the Stickeen from the sea, a railway
thence to Teslin Lake, the main source of the Yukon,
[ 237 ]
and another service of steamers down the Yukon to
Dawson City. This all-Canadian route to the Klondike meant a demand for horses. A pack-animal
costing twenty dollars at Ashcroft would sell for two
hundred dollars on the Stickeen, or, better still, could
earn forty cents a pound on cargo carried thence to
the Yukon. My plan then was to take a pack-train
across the one-thousand-mile trail, have eighteen
months' provisions waiting at the Stickeen, and there
set up a base camp. Half the expedition could then
earn wealth as packers, while the other half went exploring the rivers for gold.   It still looks nice on paper.
I had five dollars by way of capital for this venture, and though my chums wanted it for a dinner to
celebrate the idea, the money went at once into
" Experienced Western Traveler" advertised in
the Times, offering to lead a Klondike Expedition.
In Europe that announcement would have seemed
like the freak of a maniac, in England there were
sixty-three replies. To each applicant I explained
that he had no earthly chance of getting rich, but
would be overworked, drenched, possibly starved, as
a laborer, navvy, and scullion, and for these interest-
[238] ni
ing experiences must pay twelve hundred and fifty
dollars, cash down in advance. Eight men accepted
these conditions. " He was a most sarcastic man,"
said one of them afterwards, describing me in print;
"very bright, although I firmly believe from his actions that he was a half-lunatic." Quite so, for an
eager nose was once more luring a weak chin into
most grievous trouble. My beautiful plans made no
provision for a margin of disaster. The spring was
to come a month late—ruin before we could march;
the same scheme had attracted three thousand men
with seven thousand horses—the route eaten bare of
all save poison weeds, and tramped into a thousand-
mile mud-hole; and the Canadian Government, foully
breaking faith, was to abandon the Overland way,
leaving us all to starve.
I was suffering from swollen head, remembering
my experience in twenty-eight trades, but forgetting
that I had never learned one of them. So in the devout belief that I was fit for leadership, I guided better men than myself, paving their Hell with my good
intentions while I led them blindfolded into the Ashcroft Horror.
On the 25th of January, 1898, we organized the Ex-
pedition, meeting at my rooms in town, all strangers,
polite, stiff, and suspicious, after the English way.
We were very formal indeed—had not found each
other out; but there were solicitors with top-hats, also
whisky, soda, and cigarettes, so that everything was
legal and proper.   At these rites I presented H ,
my second in command, as horse-wrangler.
A fortnight later he and I, happy as schoolboys
at being in the saddle once more, rode out from the
little town of Ashcroft in British Columbia. Very
far away was that London life—two cowboys on a
winter trail in the bush; but the Englishman is the
only animal alive who with a shift of clothes can
change from the entirely civilized to the wholly savage without any sense of strangeness. Our way led
north up a thirty-mile hill, and then seventy miles
through the deep snows of the Northern Forest. The
cold was piercing, with most shrewd storms, but along
that coach-road to the Cariboo Mines there are rest-
houses at intervals, big log-buildings, where it is the
custom to offer a drink, and the warmest corner by
the stove, to every traveler. There we were among
frontiersmen who talked horse, and we were in touch
with market prices.
The Klondike rush had nearly stripped the Plains,
but horse-dealers far off in the forest were glad to
sell. Fine stock they offered, fifteen hands in height,
ten hundred-weight or more, wild bronchos from
blooded sires at twenty dollars a head. Unhappily
these forest-bred horses proved soft; and desert stock
would have served us better in the terrible time that
was coming. When we had hired a pair of horse-
breakers we drove our herd down to Hat Creek,
thirteen miles above Ashcroft, and there set up our
first camp. Renting a pasture and corral, we set to
work horse-smashing, and that was a big job, lasting
a month. Mature and entirely wild horses will
" pitch " until they are half dead, throw themselves
over cliffs, and fight with desperation before they
are conquered; indeed with one mare my chum failed,
for after throwing herself four times on the level and
thrice over the cut bank of a river, she cricked her
neck and died of a broken heart.
In time the last horses were ridden, packed,
branded, shod, and accustomed to human society,
while I was busy with the commissariat, the cooking,
and the beastly accounts, much traveling, and sore
misgivings,  for we  were living  under canvas, the
[241] 1a "f  /
temperature still ten degrees below zero every night,
and daily our wonder and horror grew at a thing
beyond experience. The winter should have ended
long ago, flowers should have blossomed beside the
melting drifts, the buds should have been fat on every
twig, but still the land lay ice-bound. When we took
down saddle-horses to meet our crowd from England,
it was within three days of the date fixed for marching; but there was ice in the creeks, snow on the
hills, frost tingling in the air. And the horses were
failing. Sick with apprehension, we watched them
starve on hay at twenty-five dollars a ton—lapsing
into scarecrows for lack of the sweet young grass.
Breaking is bad for a horse, but breaking on dry
feed is terrible, and one day my pet black saddle-
beast fell mortal sick from under me—Pestilence in
the herd! I had been busy breaking the crowd to
camp work, but when the Strangles appeared, we
struck our camp, grass or no grass, and fled. We
struck out across the heights of the forest, leaving
a dead horse at nearly every camp, afraid to march,
afraid to stay, spending the last of our reserve fund
on rotten hay at forty-five dollars a ton.
On the sixteenth day, far in the forest, we dropped
down a little by-trail into paradise—a bench in the
tremendous abyss of the Fraser River. Cliffs thousands of feet aloft shut out the world, and the torrent roared below. The grass was already a foot
high, all starred with big marigolds, a crystal spring
bubbled beside our tents, and no footstep of man for
months had disturbed the deer. A stallion ranging
about with his harem captured all our mares; the
geldings, apart by themselves, • played hide-and-seek
with our reliefs of herders; and all our sorrowful
herd, convalescent, hourly gaining in strength,
whisked their long tails, snorted at the very sight of
man, and lapsed to wild beasts in a week.
Leaving our camp of rest, we attempted to drive
the herd across Fraser River, but, several breaking
away over the mountains, were obliged to detach a
search party. Then we towed the animals across,
making them swim behind a scow, and one mare
drowned herself out of spite. Beyond that the country was mountainous along the western bank, with
nice crags to fall off, plenty of grass, and not too
much of a trail. With an ideal pack-train of tame
mules, who follow a bell mare with devoted attachment, it needs no labor of a morning to find and
bring in the herd. Each mule walks up to her own
private harness and load, then stands at attention
like an old soldier, preparing groans of protest
against the time of her toilette. But ours was not an
ideal pack-train.
The " rigging " is most complex, its proper handling a profession. First comes the sweat-pad, which
is an empty sack to collect the molted hair and
juices of exercise. Over that is laid a large double
blanket, folded curiously to relieve any bruises on the
skin. These blankets form the cargador's bedding
at night. Third comes the corona, a strip of carpet
to prevent the harness from sliding. Fourth comes
the apparejo, which is a pair of leather cushions
ribbed with sticks, stuffed with swamp grass, and
specially fitted to the animal—who is most particular
on the subject. To this apparejo is attached a crupper passed round the rump, partly to steady the pack
downhill, mainly to aggravate the animal and chasten
unseemly pride. Fifth comes the sovran helmo, a bit
of canvas stiffened at the sides, which keeps the cargo
from sliding. Sixth is the cargo itself, a package
for either flank, each lashed up with a luff-tackle
purchase, and the two loosely hung with a short sling
[244] .%
rope so as to balance perfectly.    On top is piled the
odd gear, and over all is spread the mania, a canvas
rainproof  cover,  which makes  the  cargador's tent
when it can be spared from sheltering the equipage.
Last comes the lash-rope, making the load fast to
the animal with a subtle purchase called the diamond
hitch.    One deft twitch and a wrench will displace
that lashing, but a fractious animal may buck himself sick before it begins to come loose.    When the
pack-train is ready to march the cook rides ahead,
leading the bell mare, who carries the kitchen in a
pair of chests.   The captain of the outfit scouts ahead
searching for pasturage and camp grounds, or, when
at liberty, helps the cargadors and arrieros.    These
the crew, ride in pairs with the procession, ready to
relash loose packs, and, when the animals tire, to
keep them from straying.    This is not only endless
and most exhausting work, but in the forest one needs
both nerve and " shaps " (leg armor) to gallop headlong into jungle after the self-effacing " Squattles,"
the eruptive " Sarah," or that malingerer " Jones."
The custom is to march at cocklight and camp at
noon, giving the horse-wrangler a chance to fatten
and rest his herd; but with a broncho outfit such as
ours, many beautiful traditions are most rudely
breached. We had to build a ring fence at each
camp wherein to trap and catch the horses, provided
they were not all lost overnight in jungle impenetrable to man.
Our convalescents bucked, bit, struck, kicked,
balked, bolted, mired, drowned, broke their silly necks,
kicked their packs into pieces, and never failed to behave with surprising aplomb. As to the outfits of
tame mules which we so envied, the wet forest wiped
them out in a month. Not one mule survived the first
five hundred miles.
At Quesnelle, the jumping-off place at the edge of
the Frontier, we swung into the Telegraph trail, a
string of mud-holes walled with bush, crowded with
thousands of people all pressing northward in grim
silence. What with the starvation of their animals,
sore backs, stray horses, squabbles, bankruptcy, and
endless rain, most of the pack-trains were just on the
verge of collapse. We were near the end of our own
resources, and had barely funds enough to reprovi-
sion. I knew already that by the delay of the spring
we were a month too late for effective work in the
north, that this overcrowded trail would become the
scene of a ghastly tragedy, and that the Canadian
Government had blandly left us to our fate. Perhaps it was criminal to keep these pleasant secrets
for my own private consumption. I knew we were
ruined; but, run away? I would rather have shot
And indeed only cowardice could have prompted
our flight. On that tragic march the horses of our
Star Brand won us the respect of all frontiersmen.
There was no expedition so sumptuously furnished,
so well provisioned, or with such an effective base
camp as we had waiting us in the north.
Only a tenderfoot crowd, we already rivaled the old-
hand cargadors in our loading, tracking, and camp
work; and the wonderful English sense of discipline
kept us free from the squabbles which marred man}'
rival companies. I had just reason for pride in the
Star Outfit, well capable of fighting through to the
Stickeen. We had thirty-five horses left, and to say
the least were no worse off than the most fortunate of
our neighbors. The only thing wrong with the Star
Outfit was my unfortunate leadership; I had splashed
too recklessly with the funds, I had—rather the other
fellows confessed the remainder of my sins. Only
three of them hated me with any degree of desperation.
I was being tested. One day I rode at the head
of the train leading the bell mare, and our way
swept down a hill into the Blackwater valley. The
river, sunk below the meadows in a little canyon,
roared between sheer walls with deafening thunder,
and across the gap some logs had been thrown, forming a bridge. My fool mare, objecting to the place,
jumped under stress of hard spurring half-way
across, then lost her head altogether, and backed off
the edge of the bridge. She was such a fool that she
actually missed the river and tumbled into a criss-cross
of timbering which formed the rough abutment. I
rolled out of the saddle, kicked her to show I was present, and hoisted her out. Incidentally I got a shrewd
kick on my shin. But with this delay my partners
were now bunched, waiting to cross the bridge, while
our horses, terrified by the uproar of the waters and
the shaking ground, were certain to stampede if we
tried to halt. I must mount, and ride that fool across
the bridge, or lose all claim to be a leader of men, but
my legs trembled so that I could hardly stand, and a
sudden nausea seized my inside. I led the two mares
1 [248] 1 THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   CARGADOR
across, knowing at last that I was unfit for command.
This is the curse of the romantic temperament, that it
goes to utter smash when put to the test.
Thence was to come much sorrow, and now I must
speak of memories which still hurt, regarding an unfortunate gentleman whom Nature had not designed
for any expedition by land.
A. C  came of a naval family who must have
hated horses from time immemorial. Of most engaging humor, chivalrous, and unselfish, C  was
a born sportsman, an enthusiast at mining, yet seemed
only at home on the water. Therefore I was apt to
be rude when our success, our very lives, depended
upon learning horsemanship and woodcraft. But
still he was patient with me, his dignity too fine and
deep a thing to ruffle easily upon the surface, and I
never guessed how sore he was at heart.
We marched through woods so dense that when we
turned our herd loose to feed, we could only pray to
our gods that by luck we should see them again.
They had to stray far after grass. So to travel
twenty miles we must work twenty hours a day, fortunate if we got the horses together by nine o'clock,
caught and loaded by noon, released again to graze
[ 249 ] )M.
before dusk. Our best saddle-horses were ridden to a
finish, one had been ridden to death. All day we were
tortured by black flies, all night by mosquitoes; indeed the poison from them had inflamed the glands of
our necks, and engendered much evil in our tempers.
The Overland route was indeed a school for men, but
I thought the indignant gods were twisting our tails
in the hope of educing a squeal.
After fording Mud River, we were compelled—ten
horses astray in the willows—to lie in camp for a day.
Apart from the horse-hunting we had harness to repair, and I did all the cooking. Indeed, bar twenty
minutes for a bath, I had been at work since three in
the morning, and night fell at nine o'clock while still
there was much to do.    C had been thinking all
day, and when he offered to help me wash up after
supper, I told him roughly to " go away and rest."
The words cut worse than a whip-lash across his
face, words that could never be withdrawn, never forgiven.    C was my partner, not my servant; and
if I could not command myself, how should I lead?
So I was weighed in the balance, was found wanting.
Next morning, it was the ninth day of June, I
was very early at work, served breakfast, and got the
[250]       I"      I THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   CARGADOR
boys away to hunt the swamps for our horses. C
would not eat in my company, but after breakfast
I noticed him preparing his saddle and gear for the
day's march. Then he lit his pipe, and as he walked
past the fire I begged him to have some breakfast.
Without noticing my presence he went on, and passed
between two willow bushes out of sight.
Half an hour must have passed before the missing
horses were driven into camp, and the recall signal
fired, of three revolver-shots. All the rest of the
morning we were busy catching, harnessing, and loading the pack animals, breaking camp, saddling; and
it was only at noon, when I rode out as usual to scout
ahead, that I began to be anxious about C 's ab
sence.    Meeting a horseman who had come down the
trail without seeing anything of C , I rode back
to place food and a letter by the campfire. I had
intended a drive that day of sixteen miles, but camped
the outfit at the tenth mile by Bobtail Lake, convinced that the man who had strayed would overtake us.
In the morning I sent back a man to fire shots up
Mud River valley; at noon, hearing that C was
not in the trail, I countermanded the marching orders
and sent back our two best horsemen to search; at
3 p. m. I sent back the doctor with a pack animal
loaded with camp equipment and medical stores, to
cook for the searchers; at dusk, with one other man,
rode out into the deepening night very uneasy. We
lay out at Lost Horse Meadows, five miles back, where
on the morning of the 11th of June I organized a
big search party from the pack-trains there in camp.
By sunrise I was at Mud River, raising a second
search party from various pack outfits. By evening
I had my own Star Outfit searching, with only two
herders left to take care of our horses, in the country
round Bobtail Lake.
After that I stopped every outfit on the trail; daily
the woodlands rang with the cries and the gun-shots
of the searchers; on the hills we lit great fires; expert
trackers were out in search of signs; but those who
went out noisily would come back silent, and in camp
men would wake at night screaming, " I'm lost! I'm
On the third day the rain began, obliterating the
tracks. We could hardly bring ourselves to eat—he
had no food; or to sleep—he had no fire. Every comfort of the camp arraigned us, charged us with lazi-
ness in the search; if anyone ventured to laugh, he
was stared out of countenance, while the kindly inquiries of newcomers gave us vague offense. For now
if we dared a hope it was that delirium had come soon
to the lost man, for his merciful deliverance from
pain. Like a little child he would make the woods
his kingdom, some fallen tree his throne, all the wonders revealed to him that reason hides from us. He
would never know pain again, or sorrow, or want, but
the peace of God—then sleep.
On the fifth day, learning that there were Indians
some fifty miles to the northward, I sent one of our
herders from the advanced camp. The horsemanship
of English hunting stood him in good stead now, for
he rode all night through darkness, over unknown
ground, crossing deep mire, stony hills, and dangerous
rivers. So, moved by his persuasion, at evening of
the sixth day, five Indians came into camp afoot, having left their horses played out along the trail. On
the seventh morning they started into the woods, and
I suspended all other searching lest they should be
embarrassed by fresh tracks.    Late in the evening
they returned hopeful, having found C 's trail
and followed it to where, upon his first night, he had
rested against a tree. On the eighth morning, full
of hope, I sent two white men with them to verify
their work, and all day we waited in camp, restless,
sick with anxiety. Darkness had fallen before the
Indians came back from the last search of all.
Traveling painfully over dead-fall timber, guided
here by a rotten log crushed in, there by a bent twig,
they had come to the crossing of a little stream some
fifteen miles from camp. Beyond that there was not
a trace for miles—not a sign.
Henceforth no offer of reward could induce the
Indians to continue the hopeless search, and white
men cannot track. Still, with bloodhounds, we might
have been in time, but there were none within five
hundred miles.
So on the tenth day, we who were left gathered
about our campfire for the last time, and it remained
for me to suggest plans for the future. Our food had
all been spent in the search, which meant short rations until some of us could bring a load of provisions from Quesnelle. Two parties would then be
formed for the march northward, each financing itself,
and this could be done by the division of C 's
share in the company, and my own.    My leadership
[254] I
must be resigned, and my presence would be needed
in England, where I must get probate for C 's
widow. The company gave me a paper holding me
free from blame.
All of them, though nearly starved to death,
reached the Stickeen in safety, with sixteen horses out
of the fifty-one which we had bought, and in this
fared better than most men on that disastrous trail.
On the Edmonton trail to the Klondike very few
got through alive, and whole companies of men are
known to have perished. On the Ashcroft trail, the
best thing to be said is that certainly no bodies were
found.   The facts will never be known.
It is still rather a puzzle to me how I got home to
England. At Ashcroft I had nothing left but a horse
blanket and a bad dose of neuralgia. Afterwards I
fell ill. But these things are better left unwritten,
for, if one sins in company, one must always take the
punishment alone, humbly and revering its justice.
Slowly the news leaked out that I had murdered
C- , and, because his name was one held in great
honor, the Press was eager to do justice to such news
as came out from the forest. I have by me sharp
personal criticism from a learned journal at Ran-
goon, comment wherein the Times of Singapore, and
the Times of London, are agreed with the Melbourne
Age and a paper in Mexico. For months there were
lurid details of search expeditions, of Indians holding the body to ransom, of a skeleton identified by a
ring with armorial bearings, then came rumors of the
man himself being seen alive in England. I have no
facts or theories.
[256] XV
A FTER that disaster on the Ashcroft trail I
/!& went back to my trade of writing books,
r ll worked for a year, sold a lot of rotten ideas
for a lot of rotten money, and it was not good enough.
Not for our opinions, intentions, or ideas shall we be
judged at the last, not for our scribbles on foolscap,
but for the things we have done. Fancy having to
face the Day of Judgment with no credentials except
literary " appreciations" by eminent revilers of
I had been something better than a windbag, must
have fought pretty hard to get so thoroughly
thrashed, and might yet be a man instead of sinking
to a beastly imitation in trousers and a pot-hat. At
the end of a year, ready to fight it out with Death,
to fight to the finish, I rode out from the gates of
Fort Macleod to make a record in horsemanship—or
get killed.
What were the existing records?    Sotnik Dmitri
I   [257] I       liiil '
Peshkof rode a Cossack pony, named Seri, a running-
walker, from Vladivostock to St. Petersburg, 5500
miles, in 193 days at 28 miles a day. This is a
world record for travel on a road with aid of signposts
and hotels, and as a feat of horsemanship unrivaled.
Kit Carson rode from the Mississippi to California,
twenty-two hundred miles through wild country
among hostile tribes. Neither of these records could
be broken; there is hardly room for such a road distance in the one case or for such hazard in the other,
but a third standard might be set—perhaps, of horsemanship and scouting in difficult ground.
In 1888 I had attempted to ride from Western
Canada to the City of Mexico, and was smashed up
at the end of the sixteenth mile, as aforesaid. Now
the trails of the American pioneers had all run from
east to west. These trails are now permanent ways,
the seven transcontinental railways, and upon these
threads hang beads of settlement. But between the
threads what is there? The Great American Desert
extends from the Rocky Mountains to California, in
extreme breadth about fifteen hundred miles between
Texas and the Pacific. Defining " Desert " as country too dry for farming, where all bushes are spiked,
thorned, or aromatic, the Great American Desert
touches the Canadian Pacific in the Thompson valley, and extends southward far into the heart of Mexico, rather more than three thousand miles. No man
had ever ridden the length of that Desert, such a ride
across dry country had not been recorded, and the
achievement would take rank in the annals of horsemanship. It was not to be done for a bet, or for advertisement—I wanted to get back my self-respect.
Roll your tail, and roll it high,
We'll all be angels by and by.
" Hit the trail," says the song of the cowboys,
" home with the spurs, and roll your tail and ride!
for since we'll all be angels, black or white in time,
let's make the best of a hard proposition and enjoy
the earth while it lasts."
In fear of getting lost, I took the Rocky Mountains
for a guide. There they were in snow and sunlight
against the westward sky, and southwards the Plains
once more reaching away for ever and ever, Amen.
I wanted to sing hymns, but my voice is like a wolf's
howl, and it is the intention God hears, not the distressful sounds.   Besides I had to behave myself, rid-
ing   with  a   Mounted   Police   Patrol—with   subtle
The boys had been feeding me at the dear old D
Troop mess, giving me saddle wallets, advice about
greasy heels, also silk handkerchiefs, and a hearty
God-speed for the long trail. Farther south I camped
with Sergeant Athos, dined with Porthos, who is a
sergeant-major now in South Africa, and found
d'Artagnan, turned cowboy, but presently to take the
war-trail against the Boers. The patrols passed me
on through the Blood Indian country and the Mormon settlements, down to the United States boundary.
There is a heap of stones all scratched and painted
with the names of travelers, and it stands upon a
ridge parting the waters of Hudson's Bay from the
waters of the Mexican Gulf. The patrol could come
no farther with me, and when I reached the foot of
the hill I looked back, homesick. And there against
the sky the trooper sat, his horse motionless, the sun
in glory upon his harness, glowing in the warm colors
of his cowboy dress—Good-by !
The Plains were all tawny gold, of wind-swept
grass and shadows coldly blue, life in the light, death
in the shade, lonely as man's career, reaching away
[260] THE   LONG  TRAIL f
ahead. In a tremor of fear I went slowly, and then
setting my teeth, spurred on, so long as there was
light to see the trail—the long trail.
Forty miles southward in Montana, I came next
day to an Agency in the Blackfoot nation, and found
it was Independence Day, the Fourth of July. Just
beyond the buildings my horse, Tom, swung into step
with a holiday crowd of cowboys, each man riding
his very best pony. The pets talked horse-fashion
among themselves, but the riders were silent, all save
the yapper, who, being slack of jaw, would fling out
three or four terse words to the mile. Cowboys rarely
speak on the trail unless they have something to say.
They see by the signs weather three days ahead,
know by tracks who has passed for the last week,
notice by brands whose horses or cattle are around
them—but the man who mentions these facts assumes
his comrades blind.
We rolled into a camp of fourteen hundred Indians,
a mile-wide ring of cone-shaped, smoke-browned
tents, their canvas painted with mystical figures, and
each lodge attended by a little tripod of sticks bearing a plumed drum or other sacred emblem. Far off
we could hear soft-footed drums measuring a dance,
and one other big drum having a good time all by
itself. That lone drum lived in the Medicine Lodge,
a big round house of boughs where the young warriors were being proved by ordeal of torture, prayers
were made to the Great Spirit, and the pipe went
round among the chiefs and sorcerers.
Towards the little drums we thundered at a gallop,
and drew up all smoking beside an inclosure of
wagons. There the squaws were celebrating the Grass
Dance, dressed in bright robes, adorned with little
mirrors, dyed grass, quills, small feathers, brass
cartridge shells, and penny paper fans. They stood
in a crescent, shoulder to shoulder, shuffling with bent
knees sideways, all to the melancholy rumble of the
drums, chanting a wild song which was too old to
mean anything at all, but stirred up vague emotions,
Warriors were squatting round the circle in their
robes of embroidered and painted skins, broad belts
studded with brass carpet-tacks, eagle plumes, bear-
claw necklaces. Their faces were gorgeously painted.
A gentleman who sports a horse's tail in position,
whose complexion is in violent stripes of red and yellow,  whose  ornaments  were  looted   from  dust-bins,
[ 262 ] 1 THE   LONG   TRAIL
would look incongruous, say, in the House of Commons. With antic leaps and melancholy howls two
score of gentlemen danced each for himself without
any attention to the rest, and all the time one felt
that they were warriors, hunters, horsemen, for
nothing could quite rob them of their dignity. A nice
little boy, aged six, much dressed and painted, was at
the front of every dance in a state of prodigious
bliss. This small pagan was the best boy in the
Agency Sunday School. Near by there were sham
fights on foot and horseback, each telling in action
the tale of some old-time war. The audience rode to
and fro, half-breeds in the buckskin dress of times
gone by, cowboys ogling the pretty young squaws,
hunters, trappers, scouts, freighters, all sorts of
frontiersmen, smoking cigarettes, and swapping lies
while we watched the Indian games. Afterwards
came the race meeting on a track beside the camp,
and the grand stand was a grassy bank, where we
rolled at our ease, made bets, and watched the winners home. A cloud of dust would gather in the distance, come thundering down the course, then break
with a flash of bright colors into the foreground, the
ponies   with  smoking  nostrils,   gleaming  eyes,  and
hoofs tearing the ground. The judges never knew
which won, until the grand stand explained, in mass,
with strong language. Everybody was perfectly
happy, and it was much more fun than the Derby.
At last the sun went down behind the Rocky Mountains, and in the cool of evening we rode to the
Agency buildings. There was a half-breed dance, a
display of fireworks, and for me a corner in the hayloft, where I got some sleep towards morning.
After that for many days I rode under the shadow
*J mJ
of the Rockies, where both land and air were defiled
by sheep, a kind of vermin which no horseman likes.
Neither would I speak with the herders, a prejudice
which put me to shame when afterwards I heard of
the great autumn storms. For when the snow-storms
came they stayed with their flocks, guarding them,
saving them—and their bodies were found beside the
sheep pens.
Sometimes on the lonely Plains I would meet the
wild range horses; a stallion guarding his harem of
smug mares would come sailing down, mane and tail
in the air, ears back, teeth bared, wanting to fight
me, neighing his lordly challenge. My horse would
be quaking with fright before the beast wheeled at
[ 264 ] THE   LONG   TRAIL
ten paces from me, cast the dust of his heels in my
face, and drove his harem of mares away from temptation.
I found settlements strung out all across Montana,
and had only to camp three nights on a road of four
hundred miles. Overbearingly exalted are the folks
of mine and mill, farm and growing town, where much
is promised, little yet fulfilled. So is a half-broiled
fish suggestive to the eager appetite, though not so
far alluring to the teeth. " What d'ye think of my
fish ? " says Montana, spitting truculent on unwashen
floors. " Strongest on earth, eh? Yes, Siree! makes
you played-out Easterners wilt! " One shrinks past,
holding one's nose.
The grace of humility lurks only in towns gone
smash, where some few survivors, nailed by the ears
to a mortgage, take vengeance for their woes on the
unusual traveler. One such place was Three Forks,
placed at the meeting of three streams, which unite
to form the Missouri, longest river on earth. It was
quite a large town, with shops and churches, hotels,
and dust enough for two thousand people, but there
were only three families remaining—the rest having
been driven away, I think, by mosquitoes.    There are
many such eddies in that torrent of marching civilization known as the West.
A day's march through farms, a night-ride over
mountains, and, beyond that, a long stretch of baking
desert brought me to the Yellowstone Park. It is
fifty miles long, fifty wide, its valleys at twice the
altitude of Snowdon, its mountains a mile above that,
in the eternal ice. It is a forest full of horseflies and
mosquitoes, where big white roads go coiling through
the green. Choked with dust one drinks at a wayside
spring, and laps up sparkling Apollinaris; wondering at the monotony of the timber, one comes to a
precipice of black bottle-glass in huge columnar crystals; and beyond that the road winds for miles by a
cool brook threading between pools of boiling water.
No beryls, no sapphires are quite so lovely as those
deep, clear wells set in a fairy lacework of white carving, and shot with strange rays of iridescent light.
Then there are terraces of snowy sculptured stairs
leading up into the blue of heaven; acres of smoking
white rock where jets from hell are blowing off like
the thunderous exhaust of an ocean liner; and at intervals mounds of plaster from whence enormous columns arise of diamond water, half veiled in pearly
[266] THE   LONG   TRAIL -.flSj
steam. Pots of boiling paint, cataracts of hot water,
tracts where the standing forest is changed to jasper
and onyx; then, after a week of wonders and marvels,
when every faculty of the mind is benumbed with over-
astonishment, one comes at last to the Grand Canyon
of the Yellowstone. My main impression was that 1
must have gone crazy. A big river comes out of a big
lake, and leaps headlong into an abyss twelve hundred
feet deep. The sides of this chasm are prickly with
rock spires and pinnacles, crimson and rose, olive and
orange, golden-brown and salmon, snow, ruby, and
topaz, color gone mad, heaven turned loose, from the
steel-blue torrent up to the somber forest and the
arch of the cloud-flecked sky. Even the godless tourist is struck speechless.
The forest reeks with them, camped in the glades,
drawling between meals in the hotels, dragged through
the blinding dust in wagonettes. The Liars who
drive them are tame farmers, loaded each to the muzzle
with Wild West fiction for their "dudes." The
" dudes," poor things, believe everything, photograph everything, choke, and scratch their mosquito
bites, guggle at the dust, and pay a deal more than
they ever expected.     Also there are many families,
[ 267 ]
called " sagebrush tourists," emigrants such as are
forever moving by wagon through the West in search
of the promised land. These turn aside for a rest in
the Park, and are camped in its glades by hundreds.
Nobody may use a gun, there are patrols of United
States Cavalry to see to it, and the forest swarms
with game. The bears, grizzlies, black, brown, cinnamon, lumbering beasts as big as an ox, ravage the
ash-heaps at the camps and hotels, and are photographed in the act by schoolma'ams in dusters and
The hotels have barricaded their larders, but the
bears like to scratch themselves on the nicely spiked
doors before they break in for refreshments; or, failing that, they search among the rooms and corridors
hoping for a nice fat child. One self-indulgent bear
sacked my camp, and left me with nothing but
coffee and tobacco among the ruins of the commissariat.
The troopers of the 7th Cavalry saved me from
subsequent hunger, behaving most brotherly. And
their accomplishments were truly surprising. Bashful young men admitted at my campfire they could
shoot an ace of spades at a hundred yards, lasso a
[ 268 ] THE   LONG   TRAIL
buffalo bull, ride anything with hair on it, and presently intended to arrest " Mac," the President of the
Republic, for infracting the rules of the Park. All
this they had acquired in six weeks of military service,
and surely veterans of three months' standing must
be horribly dangerous.
But for the cavalry protection, wicked tourists
would molest the helpless geysers, inciting them with
an emetic of soap to untimely spouting. But these
formidable guardians of the Law make the trembling
citizen to keep off the grass, and throw him into a
dungeon if he adorns the scenery with his honorable
name and address. No trifle is too small for the attention of the Army, but within fifty miles I came into
a community of outlaws who live by robbing trains,
banks, coaches, and trading-posts, by stealing bunches
of cattle, and shooting sheriffs—they had shot one six
weeks ago. The tourist is kept off the grass; but the
robber slaughters herds of elk just for the sake of
their eye-teeth, which are desired as watch-charms by
the brethren of the "Elk" Secret Society. This
minute attention to signboards and official observances, coupled with splendid indifference to mere robbery and murder, should teach our effete monarchy
how we might be advantaged from a groveling imitation of Republican Freedom.
The outlaw stronghold is in Jackson's Hole, where
there is a lake dominated by the sublime walls and
icy spires of the Grand Teton. Under the shadow
of that stupendous mountain, I found two or three
times in a day's march some log-cabin among the trees
by a water spring. Antlers branched from the gable;
and within were heads and pelts nailed to the timbers
of the wall, traps, guns, snowshoes, horsegear, all the
equipments of a hunter. There were no women, and
the men wore their harness of belt and boot, spur and
gun, with a certain unconscious grace one only sees
on the remote Frontier. They were for the most part
hunters and trappers, but a few of the quiter men
lived by robbery under arms. Their trail belongs to
the next chapter.
My way led eastward, up from the sagebrush
valley through gorges walled with cliffs of bright
orange, olive, and terra-cotta rock; then higher
through meadows and timber to the upper pastures
of the Gros Ventre Mountains, where the snow lay
deeply drifted in July; and after that down to the
sagebrush valley of Green River, where I camped,
[ 270 ] I
. -*i~*o/„
il'i&HMr^Mrf THE   LONG  TRAIL
weather-bound, at the Dog Ranch. All that country
was thick with cast antlers, tracks and sign of elk,
moose, and blacktail, deer, sheep; wolves, foxes,
wolverine, lynx; first-class bears—grizzty; second-
class bears—cinnamon, black, brown (no third class) ;
beaver, musquash, marten, polecat; and there are fifty
wild bison. Moreover there are eagles in that land,
hawks, owls, geese, duck, pelicans, cranes, heron,
grouse, pintails, sage hens. It is, perhaps, the best
hunting ground left in North America. The weather
was past all excuse detestable, and it was more than
wealth to sit by the hearth at the Dog Ranch while
the hunters swapped lies, and the dogs played at
sleep-listening writh one ear up. The year's stores
being delayed by the rains, there was little to eat, so
hungry men cast wistful eyes down the valley. When
at last word came of the supply wagons stuck in a
mudhole on the home pasture, we all turned out to
help. We unloaded the wagons, hauled them with
ropes out of one mudhole and another, then loaded up
again to repeat the trouble. But dinner that day was
an event.
Next came the first of the autumn sportsmen, a
Chicago banker; the place was in a rush of prepara-
[ 271 ]
'i f
tion, and the Boss went off with a pack-train of five
riggings. He had fifty miles to go across the mountains, there to be married to a lady, thence to bring
her home—or failing that, a barrel of whisky. The
pack animals were to carry the trousseau. Long
afterwards I heard that the return was a double
triumph of both—the lady for the Boss, and the
whisky for the boys.
While I sat on the hearth at the Dog Ranch a man
rode up to the house, dismounted, and put his head
in at the door, asking directions for Jackson's Hole.
An honest man would have walked in expecting dinner, would have been welcome to something more than
directions for a fifty-mile ride through a most awful
storm. The stranger was dressed like a bank clerk,
the toes sticking through his worn-out city shoes; he
was wet to the hide and exhausted, he rode a superb
horse without a saddle. We watched him go down to
the river,—not suffering like a town tenderfoot, but
riding,—we saw him almost carried away in the deep
ford, and then he disappeared into the swirl of sleet;
a robber flying from justice.
Now the hunters are all forest-rangers of the State
of Wyoming to guard the timber and the game; and
'   Wifiiiirir i ii I iTiiaa THE   LONG   TRAIL
if the outlaws would only leave the elk alone, they
might kill all the sheriffs they liked. But sometimes,
when business is slack and purses are tight, the outlaws amuse themselves by slaughtering elk.
Naturally the hunters object, and shortly before my
arrival there was a little unpleasantness—one episode
out of many. A party of hunters were ambushed
near the Dog Ranch by a band of outlaws, and were
forced to retreat with some loss of dignity. Also
there arose a feud between a lumber-camp, which was
supplied with venison by a robber, and a certain
forest-ranger who stopped the supply. The lumbermen were laying for that ranger, and on my way
down Green River I stopped at the camp in his company. There was reason for some little watchfulness
—I had no gun.
Here I was face to face at last with the problem
of a six-months' ride across the Great Desert. To
the eastward lay Colorado, a labyrinth of high alps,
and beyond that New Mexico and Eastern Chihuahua,
said to be bare of forage. To the westward one could
only get clear of the impassable Grand Canyon of
the Colorado by way of Death Valley, the Gila Desert,
and Sonora, where many expeditions had perished of
thirst. Straight ahead was a region cut to pieces by
a maze of impenetrable chasms, then the Navajo and
Apache Indian countries where I was sure to be
scalped, and beyond that the land of the Border
Ruffians, where I was fairly certain to be murdered.
All three routes led into Mexico, where I could not
possibly find the way unless I followed trail directions
in an unknown tongue.
With a wagon carrying forage and water—how
about cliffs? With a bicycle which needs no forage
or water—how about deep rivers? With wings?
Alas! despite the best hair-restorers mine have not
yet sprouted. With saddle and pack-horse I must
find grass and wTater every day or perish. Musing
these cheering details I went straight ahead by the
middle route, and, thanks to the cowboys and outlaws, my bones are not bleaching on the sands.
Being very lonely, and a natural-born fool, I had
taken up with a loose-footed barber for company,
and now, as we descended Green River Valley, I hoped
at every ford that he would get washed away. Every
emergency was to be viewed now as a fresh deterrent
to the barber—but he was faithful. Crossing the
Union Pacific Railway at Green River City, we were
[ 274 ] THE   LONG   TRAIL
chased by five cheerful locomotives into a quicksand^
where my horse was nearly drowned—my partner got
across dryshod. Swimming the river in a bad place
a few days later, the pack-horse tried to use me as
an islet in midstream from whence to survey the
scenery—that barber said he had saved my life. Bless
Next we came to some gentle, alluring hills which
curled up nicely to an overhanging comb. Higher
and higher as we advanced, ridge beyond ridge went
up like rollers on a sea-beach, hurricane-lashed, gigantic, thousands of feet in sheer height, mountains which
curled to a jagged edge of overhanging precipice.
Swinging eastward through the trough between two
waves, we found the gorgeous Red Creek Canyon,
which led, like the path of Israel, through the depths
of this Red Sea, and so out into the rolling sagebrush
valley called Brown's Park. This district is, like
Jackson's Hole, an outlaw stronghold tenanted in part
by respectable, well-to-do robbers. To the westward
of it, in the canyons of Green River, there is a meadow
fenced by cliffs, a hiding-place for stolen herds of
cattle and robbers in retreat; indeed, descending Red
Creek Canyon, we must have crossed the dim trail
which leads to this mysterious pasturage. The trail
enters the mountains from one of the Brown's Park
ranches, the owner of which is an expert at staving off
awkward inquiries. A cowboy told me how once at
this ranch he saw a bunch of cattle driven up the hills,
close followed by a sheriff's posse in hot pursuit.
Only by misdirections to the sheriff were the outlaws
saved from capture; and the officers of the law are
still in the dark as to where the trail begins and where
it leads to. Here, at the very gateway of the hidden
stronghold, it was my curious fortune to meet the
garrison. My partner and I had made camp in the
ranch meadows, and at sundown I strolled to the house
to buy potatoes. While I was there four cowboys
came down out of the hills, and at their appearance
my host became flurried and uneasy, making hasty
excuses to get rid of me. Later in the night I heard
the strange horsemen clattering up the loose stones of
the hillside, bound, no doubt, by the hidden trail, to
the outlaw camp in the canyons. That was my second
meeting with desperadoes in hiding, and I had the additional pleasure in Brown's Park of dining with a
notable robber—I may not name him, the guest of a
public enemy eats under flag of truce.
IBL..(g!■-■■■' **m*maim.       .^wr» - *^^" THE LONG TRAIL
Here, the southward mountains are cleft to the
roots, and Green River flows into the red jaws of the
terrific canyon Lodore. We passed to the eastward,
and crossed several ranges of mountains, with wild
and lonely valleys between, each with its river and its
thread of settlement. In one hundred and eighty-
three miles we had met fifty-four persons and so felt
that we were entering a crowded country, when, swinging down out of the Roan Mountains, we saw the steel
rails gleaming in the Grand River Settlements, and
cantered through the farms to the city of Grand Junction, Colorado. Here my partner saw five barbers'
shops in a row; the painted poles bewitched him, and
the razors and the scissors cried out to him.
He wrung my hand at parting, deeply moved—he
to exercise his virtues in their natural sphere, and I
for the long trail.
Before facing the desert again I had a two-days'
debauch on milk and honey, whisky, cigars, fruit, and
chocolates. It is curious how one puts all one's pleasures to one's mouth, especially the feminine. Hitting
the trail, I climbed up out of the walled desert of
Grand River into a nice park ten thousand feet high,
where there are woods and grassy meadows, songbirds,
frosty nights, and running waters. Two days' ride
through paradise brought me to the end, the edge.
This State of Colorado is so named after the vivid red
of its quartzite rocks, and here flaming scarlet walls
went down into a blue of moonlight. Immense chasms
defined a labyrinth of embattled cliffs, and beyond the
farther wall of chaos rose clustered peaks to heaven.
I must get my three horses across, and there was no
trail. The way was down a four-thousand-foot bank
of grass, where I led my unwilling beasts with brutal
ropes round their noses. There was heaps of trouble
at the bottom, for the floor of the Unaweep Canyon
would puzzle a mountain goat. This led down into
the canyon Dolores, which was worse, because I could
not find the way up the farther wall. Sheer above
rose the scarlet heights on every side, each castellated
mountain crowned with cool, green forest, while the
depths in which I wandered glowed with a furnace
heat. On the third day I found a mighty bay of
cliffs, with a gap in the middle guarded and half filled
by a monster column. The slope below might have
been the ruins of a London set on edge, and my horses
fought desperately rather than face that particular
stairway to paradise.    Beyond the pillar there were
[ 278 ] THE   LONG   TRAIL
cattle-tracks up the edge of a knife-like ridge, the
way swinging across to some projecting ledge which
hung in space, then back again, and up to something
My saddle-horse got the rope under his tail, and
bucked like a fiend, but his gait was always rough
anyway, and his pitching no worse than his trot, so
I kept my seat. Then the led horse pulled him over
a crag and he fell ten feet; but I got off at the top.
All three horses plunged, reared, and fought me in
places where there really was no room for argument;
the scrub of pine and cedar became impenetrable;
then at last, at Point Despair, the stairway eased to
a slope. After many hours of hard fighting I had
conquered the Gateway trail, and seventeen miles of
park and prairie brought me to the first ranch on the
Mesa la Sal in Utah. How had I come? asked the
cowboys. " Followed your tracks," said I; " where
you drove cattle any fool could ride." " We didn't,"
said the cowboys; " we headed cattle into the bottom
at sundown. They worked their way up hunting
grass, and we found them on the rim rocks in the
Next day I came upon a sheep-herder, who sat on
[ 279 ] IV
a log, his dog beside him, his rifle on his knees.
" Sorry to see you here," said I, for the pasturage
was fine. " So am I," answered the destroyer;
" beastly shame, isn't it? I brought my herd
here last week, another bunch came last night,
and we^re waiting to see if the cowboys will run us
out. If they don't there are ^ve more herds to
Across these States I had seen the country reduced
to desert by the sheep, the grass torn out by the roots
so that cattle and horses starved, and stock-owners
reduced to beggary or flight. In one Colorado district a sheepman had come with thirty thousand head,
and for ten years ravaged the country. For ten
years the cattlemen tried peaceable methods; attempted to buy out the enemy. In the end the sheepman was waited upon by a hundred and fifty armed
riders, who strongly advised him to go. He went,
but it was six years before the land recovered and
the cattle-owners again had accounts at the bank.
Now, here was the enemy camped in the beautiful Mesa la Sal, wondering if the cowboys would
I rode pretty hard that day, and at night brought
[ 280 ] THE   LONG   TRAIL
warning to some cowboys. If ever you hear of thousands of sheep butchered at night by masked riders,
or driven headlong over a precipice, that only means
the saving of the stock range. The sheep-owner has
the lawyers at his back, even if he destroy the whole
industry of a country and replace a score of hardworking cowboys with one half-witted herder. I side
with the masked riders, because human rights are
stronger than any law.
From the cow-camps down into the Desert, and
there I saw a lone rock, the natural statue, two hundred feet high, of a great Red Indian chief, his robe
drawn about him, his bare head thrown back as though
he were speaking. I have never seen so grand a monument.
I was following then the trail of the Kids, of the
boy mail-riders who in these parts ride to outlying
settlements fifty or a hundred miles across the Desert.
The mail-bag is slung on their saddles, they dress as
cowboys, wear big revolvers, despise all other boy-
kind whatsoever, and are much hated and envied by
boy-persons. Here is an ideal for boys to dream of,
only, unfortunately, there are no pretty girls to rescue from robbers, no Indian scalp-hunters to fly from,
[ 281 ]
and the  riders  I met  were  heartily  sick  of their
By the mail-rider's trail I found my way to the
Mormon outposts, where I began to find out about the
great outlaw stronghold of Utah. XVI
WHAT are the outlaws like? To recognize
an outlaw at sight requires a more subtle
observation than I dare pretend. There is
a queer look in the eyes of many cowboys—that of a
brave man riding to visible destruction, and this is
intensified if they sink to crime. A peculiar droop of
the eyelid often marks the felon, a certain hardness
of the face comes to the gentlest lads who have gone
wrong, and every murderer I ever met was quiet, reticent, watchful, cynical. All these qualities one may
detect by watching for a day or two the shifting
moods of an outlaw. About him there is an atmosphere of one doomed beyond all hope, all pardon, and
yet at first contact he only differs from other men
in charm.
I am moved to gush, to be sentimental, to suggest
that such a man is not like the conventional criminal,
a disease in human shape, with a gorilla's intelligence
and a jackal's courage, that he is at the lowest esti-
mate a mighty beast of prey, and that, considering
his open, unflinching war against powers celestial and
terrestial, it is not mawkish to extend Christian pity
to a fallen spirit.
My first warning on meeting an outlaw was an uncanny sense of being seen through, next I was made
aware of a reserve as impenetrable as that of the well-
bred Englishman, and, this being accepted, found
myself drawn, like steel to a magnet, into a curious
intimacy. I was welcomed in homes, camps, even
strongholds of the most dangerous criminals in the
world. In a town I took elaborate precautions, securing my treasure-belt, harness, and horses from thieves
or cheats. Among outlaws who live by robbery, and
defend themselves by murder, I traveled seven hundred miles with no misgivings. Twice I ran some
risk, but that was through being mistaken for a
The bandits with whom I camped and traveled did
not pose as such, but by cautious inquiry I found some
of them to be notable men with a price on their heads
" dead or alive." Frankly I asked them for information about the robbers, with equal candor they gave
me most valuable help, or, if the scent got too warm,
they lied. That made the inquiry difficult, but suppressing all facts told in confidence, all names of informants—some of whom placed their very lives in my
hands—and all details useful to the law, I can still
give verified evidence throwing light on the whole
system of outlawry as it was up to January, 1900.
If I leave out the best parts of the story it is because
men's lives are at hazard.
The social disease of outlawry is much reduced in
scope and virulence as settlement extends across the
West. Judge M'Gowan's gangs of desperadoes
actually ruled California in the early times of the gold
rush, when in five years there were forty-two hundred
homicides. Mr. Plummer, Sheriff of Montana City in
1864, used his official authority to wipe out rival outlaws, being himself captain of a gang of highway
robbers numbering one hundred and thirty, and re
sponsible for one hundred murders. Such feats are
no longer possible, but the government being still very
weak and quite incompetent, it is not surprising to
find even now a banditti which has robbed or wrecked
scores of express trains, dozens of coaches, banks, and
small towns, and in the Desert is destroying the cattle
I found that during the last decade a system of
robber bands has existed along a curved line twenty-
five hundred miles in length. Since 1890 many of
their strongholds have been swept away by armed
citizens. The Tonto Basin gang, the Coconino gang,
the Clock, Dalton, and Cook gangs, the Mexican
Lopez and Guerrero gangs have all been shot out.
Twenty-seven robbers were shot in the Tonto alone.
There remain the Jackson's Hole and Hole-in-the-wall
gangs of Wyoming, the Brown's Park and Robbers'
Roost gangs of Utah, a little gang near Wilcox
(Arizona), certain Border Ruffian gangs on the
Texas-Mexico Line, and the Indian Territory gangs.
These two last I know nothing about, not having met
them, but the total numbers are given as four hundred
men living entirely by robbery-under-arms. The
various gangs are said—but this is not confirmed—
to communicate by means of cipher advertisements in
a matrimonial paper. The general headquarters of
the system is a great central stronghold, the Robbers'
Roost in Utah.
In my attempt to reach this mysterious place, I
came, in Southeastern Utah, to a range marked in
the maps Sierra Abajo, but known as the Blue Moun-
[ 286 ] THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   OUTLAW
tains. There I found what must have been a very big
cattle ranch, founded by a supposed English lord of
eccentric tastes. For his cowboys he engaged all the
bad men he could find, and they robbed him out of the
business. Three miles southward of the ranch is the
Mormon Colony of Monticello, where many years ago
these wicked cowboys attended a ball, making the
reverend elders to dance to the tune of revolver-shots
fired at shrinking feet. Among these Mormons, too,
was one Tom Roach, who at another entertainment
suddenly turned wolf, shot a man for dancing with
his wife, and took up an offertory of purses. A
young lad had the courage to take a shot at Roach,
but unhappily missed him and killed a woman.
Then the new wolf out of the Mormon fold rode off
to join the wolf-pack at the ranch. The wolf-pack
matured into the Robbers' Roost gang, now an outlaw firm of twelve years' standing, numbering thirty-
four partners.
I thought in my innocence that once I reached
Monticello, where the Mormons must know all about
it, I would easily secure a guide to take me on to
the stronghold. Not a bit! Why, when I stabled
my horse with the Very Reverend Bishop of Monti-
cello, he thought ill of me at once. Want to go to
the Robbers' Roost? In haste he sent out, warning
the whole community against me—I was an outlaw!
I could not get an}rthing to eat, had no end of trouble,
and it was quite late in the evening before I found
the milk and honey of a Mormon household—being
hungry enough to chew up log-barns in default.
A New York paper has described the stronghold
as a fortified cave, equipped with machine guns,
guarded by sentries, only approached by one trail,
and that death for intruders. This vision is furnished
with a grand piano, electric lights, and telephones.
Imagination is, indeed, the soul of journalism, and
outlawry must be gilded to allure young fools into
crime. As for me, who traveled by stony trails in
search of facts, I have, in talk with members of the
gang, seen their hard mouths twist to an ugly grin
over the inventions of the Yellow Journalists. The
way of the outlaw is a steep and bloody track through
days of splendid excitement, nights of awful despair,
and the only end is a violent death at the Gate of
Everlasting Damnation. I saw few modern conveniences in the cabins of the outlaws; their homes were
common ranches, their camps below the average of
comfort.    Once, years ago, I stumbled into an outlaw
camp which was actually starving.    I wras kicked out.
The headquarters of the bandits may be easily
located on a map. See where the Green and Grand
Rivers meet to form the Colorado. Just below that,
the west bank of the Colorado is a precipice called
the Orange Cliffs. To the north is the San Rafael
Canyon, to the south the Dirty Devil Canyon, torrents
of rushing mud lost in profound gorges. The tract
of land on top of the Orange Cliffs, entirely surrounded by canyons, can only be reached by one or
two difficult trails. Here stands a log house, the
Robbers' Roost, with its corrals and spring of water,
pasturage for horses and cattle; the cliffs are a fence,
and the whole district a secure retreat from justice.
The garrison generally numbers about ten out of
thirty-four members of the gang. The house is
cheered by the presence of one or two ladies, wives of
outlaws; and in 1896 there were two Mormon girls
stolen from Castle Valley who made no moan over their
bondage.    The place is just an ordinary ranch.
Captain M'Carty, described as general manager, is
thirty-five to forty years of age, widowed of a Mormon wife who died eight years ago.      He is from
[289] w
Oregon, a cowboy, horse-breaker, and expert roper,
inclined to " play tough," and has one murder to account for, that of an Indian. His son is a member of
the gang; also a nephew, son of Bill M'Carty who
was shot in 1886 while robbing the bank at Delta in
Colorado. Mr. Butch Cassidy, second in command, is
a cowboy, Roman Catholic. Mr. Jackson has four
murders to his record. Messrs. Mickleson and Cofod
are Danes, sheep-herders and Mormons, who shot the
sheriff of San Pete County, Utah, and were for twelve
months hidden by their friends in a coal-pit before
they joined the gang. Also there are the Roberts
brothers, who helped to kill the sheriff of Albany
County, Wyoming; David Lant, a Mormon Englishman ; John Wesley Allen, Methodist, a Texan horse-
breaker; and Mr. Johnson, a member of the original
wolf-pack.    They are nearly all cowboys.
" The Union Pacific Railway and Pacific Express
Companies offer 2000 dollars per head, dead or alive,
for the six robbers who held up the Union Pacific mail
and express train ten miles west of Rock Creek Station, Albany County, Wyoming, on the morning of
2d June, 1899."
So read the poster—" 2000 dollars per head, dead
[290] A
or alive." The express car had been blown up with
dynamite, the express agent, after a gallant fight,
fell mortally wounded, and the robbers got away
with the treasure-chest—some eighty thousand dollars.
At Rock Creek the telegraph clerk awakened the
agent, the agent ran for the sheriff, the sheriff aroused
the sleeping town with a call for volunteers. Lights
flashed from windows, men were shouting as they
belted on their arms, saddled in haste, gathered in the
street, waited for the sheriff's word, then clattered all
away into the Desert. Down the track they rode at
a steady trot to where the men stood with lanterns,
calling to them. The horsemen scattered out, searching the ground, then one of them lifted his head yelling, and all gathered once more to swing into the
horse-tracks of the robbers. Northward they rode in
silence, while the light spread, while the sun rose, while
the quivering air infolded them with heat. Silent
they went all day through the burning haze and blinding light. In the evening they came to reefs of rocks,
where the tracks led through a gap; and the pursuers
went on weary, determined, eyes half-closed. All of
a sudden little flames spat out at them from the rocks;
ii w
horses reared and bolted, men fell headlong, there was
shooting at the air, shouting, panic; then all was
quiet in the waning light of evening where the sheriff
lay in his blood and slow wings flapped by overhead.
That is the usual thing, and the robbers go back to
their strongholds quite secure.
Now the robbing of trains, from a cold-blooded,
business point of view, has many drawbacks. The
engine-driver is apt to lash out a hose-pipe firing boiling water, the train is liable to be full of men with
rifles, the treasure-car to be armor-plated, and a lot
of good robbers have been spoiled with bullets or rope
past all repairing; then a posse of riders in pursuit
—whereas lifting cattle is a healthy occupation and
most remunerative.
So dearly does the cowboy love dumb animals that
west of the Rockies there is an indiscriminate promiscuous stealing of cows. Where stockmen make a
handsome living by the theft of each other's cattle,
they cannot, as amateurs, resent the raids of their
professional brethren, the outlaws. Indeed the cowboys and the robbers are on the best of terms. For
instance, in the winter of 1898-99, two cowboys, holding a bunch of cattle on the Blue Mountain Mesa,
[ 292 ] THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   OUTLAW
fell in with a party of outlaws, who politely asked
them to dinner. They rode to the outlaws' camp,
which was in a strong position for defense. There
they had a beautiful time, dined on their own beef,
and felt quite at home, except that one of the robbers
always stood over them with a loaded rifle.
A few days later, sixty of their cattle were missing,
so they hunted around for the tracks of the friendl}7
robbers. The trail led down into the Grand Canyon
and across the Colorado to the mouth of Dirty Devil
River. After that the robbers must have driven the
stock in the river-bed, for there was not one track on
the banks, so the cowboys scouted carefully up Dirty
Devil Canyon. There was the outlaws' camp-fire still
smoking, nobody at home, and the stolen cattle were
grazing close by on the hillside. For once the robbers
actually lost their plunder, because the two punchers,
rounding up their stock, rode off in triumph.
From the point of view of the stolen cow, the gentlemen of the Robbers' Roost are too brusque. In
1897 a bunch of two hundred head were taken across
the Grand Canyon, and must have had a most unpleasant passage. For lack of a trail, the robbers
rigged a windlass at the top of the cliffs, then making
-    "-- ':"•;
each animal fast by the horns, lowered her down a
rock-chute. Then there was the river to swim, where
a third of the sorely abraded cattle got drowned.
Climbing the eastern cliffs, the stock were then run off
their legs into Colorado, a posse of citizens being in
hot pursuit of the robbers. Not that the outlaws
were at all flurried, for they had time to steal a herd
of horses, drive these into Utah, sell out, and so home
for a well-earned rest at the stronghold. One robber
stayed off at Bluff, a Mormon village, lost his share of
the spoil over a game of poker, held up the winner,
relieved him of a purse and revolver, and so homeward, belated but cheerful, to the Roost.
Of course this system of small sales and a quick
turnover causes much irritation among the ranchers.
But it only represents the retail wing of the business,
and the wholesale department has to be managed more
carefully. Stolen bunches of cattle are collected at
the Robbers' Roost pasturage; the brands are altered
to suit; then the annual herd is driven gently northward through Moab and Delta, then by a secret trail
over the Roan Mountains. The rendezvous is, say,
at Rattlesnake Bluffs, where the Hole-in-the-wall gang
has a herd of Wyoming cattle waiting for fair ex-
[ 294 ] THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   OUTLAW
change. Taking the Robbers' Roost herd, the Hole-
in-the-wall gang drives on across Wyoming and sells
out on the Northern Pacific Railway in Montana.
The cattle, now a thousand miles from where they
were stolen, can be sold in perfect security; and the
Robbers' Roost gang has Montana stock to offer in
the Arizona market.
I found the outlaws most reticent as to their arrangements for agencies, brokerage, and banking;
nor could I persuade any bankers or cattle-dealers to
explain their business methods in dealing with Robbers' Roost Limited. That gave me no end of worry.
However, I doubt if any member of the gangs would
accept his share of the spoils in mere acceptances, or
notes of hand, and the transactions are probably on a
cash basis in gold on delivery.
Robbers' Roost Limited does its shopping at the
Mormon colony of Moab, sending an occasional pack-
train for supplies. The Moabites also keep shod
horses ready to be " stolen " when needed. On such
occasions the horses " robbed " from the Moabites are
always punctiliously returned, also a certain pickax
which has assisted in no less than seven deliveries of
prisoners out of the local jail.
11 I?
The Mormons at Bluff disapprove of robberies, so
they told me, but are certainly far from unkind. For
example, at 6 p. m. on the 12th of July, 1899, two
well-armed " cowboys " rode into Bluff. They had
some trouble in getting hay for their fourteen ponies,
so it was eight o'clock before they supped on hot bread
and milk at the stopping-house. Later in the evening they wanted to sell or trade off some of the ponies,
but the shrewd Mormon elders did not care to accept
their bills of sale, because there was doubt as to the
title of ownership. Indeed, the two gentlemen were
Mr. Butch Cassidy and Mr. Johnson, from the Robbers' Roost by way of Dandy crossing. In the
morning they rode away, and some days later came a
party of detectives in pursuit. The officers remained
a week making inquiries, and finally departed on the
wrong trail. But even had they been close on the
track of the robbers, what chance could they have with
one horse apiece in pursuit of men who knew the country, and could easily cover a hundred miles a day!
A horse in a fright will take a great many steps
to the square 3rard, and I fancy those detectives
trampled their own shadows all to pieces.
" Of course," said the people at Bluff, " we strongly
disapprove of the robbers. They pay cash, good
prices, too, and they're sure polite to the women-folk."
The robbers are popular heroes.
Yet with all that they rarely enter a house without
posting a sentry on guard. And especially they need
all their shyness in the Indian country since they
rashly stole six hundred head of cattle from the
Navajo nation. The Navajos, ever partial to scalps,
would delight in getting a robber. Thus three days
before I reached Red Lake trading post, on the main
southward trail of the outlaws, three men camped there
in the sands, who kept their fire burning for barely
twenty minutes, and were careful to hide their faces
from the trader. " They had come," they said, " two
hundred miles on water and mountain scenery—and
damned little water." They were bound from Robbers' Roost for canyon Diablo on the railway, probably intending to be good cowboys in San Francisco
or Denver, while they spent their hard-earned savings
on a drunk. Even robbers must have their summer
In the whole desert region I met only one man who
openly expressed his abhorrence and contempt for
outlaws.    One day a cowboy had called at his camp,
[ 297 ] :     I
and said from the saddle, " Shut your mouth about
us, or clear out of this district."
He cleared out.
Bad talk about the robbers is only unwise; to
betray them is dangerous. In 1895 Mr. Parker and
two other robbers held up an express train near Ash
Fork, Arizona, and the sheriff's posse, following, overtook the fugitives, who showed fight. One was shot
and one escaped, but Parker was captured and conveyed to Phoenix. Feeling uneasy in the Phoenix jail,
Parker shot one of his warders, wounded a citizen, and
got clear away, heading at once for home at the Robbers' Roost. All would have gone well with the gentleman, but that on the Painted Desert he was reduced
by desperate need to call at an Indian trading post
known as Willow Springs.
Now Mr. Preston, the trader, and Mr. Parker, the
outlaw, had worked together as cowboys on the range.
Parker suspected nothing, and had supper in no fear
whatever. But the trader knew his guest, not only
as a former comrade, but also as a hunted man with
a price on his head—wanted for robbery and murder.
Parker rode away in peace, traveled thirty miles, and
near the verge of Grand Canyon slept the sleep of
m [298]
the tired, never suspecting that his host was out on
his trail with a dozen Navajo trackers, such as never
fail. Parker awoke to find himself a prisoner, was
given up for the reward of two thousand dollars, and
duly hanged for his crimes.
The cowboys say that Mr. Preston took money for
the blood of his own comrade; but when I heard of
this man who had done his duty as a citizen in face of
almost certain vengeance, and when I knew that he
still dared to live alone on the Painted Desert, distant
but four days' march from the great stronghold, I
felt that it would be an honor to meet with him.
Crossing the Painted Desert, I reached a little canyon where there is a pool of dirty water under a rock.
There was a camp of cowboys, and as we all sat late
round the fire, our talk was stopped of a sudden by
the sound of wheels. A man drove into the camp,
and presently I learned that the visitor was the trader,
Mr. Preston, whose life could never be quite safe
among the cowboys unless he came as their guest.
The boys were loosing his horses, and he was giving
them a drink from a stone bottle, when, leaving the
fire, I walked up to him.
" Mr. Preston, I think ? "
[ 299 ]
" Yes."
" The gentleman who got that robber ? "
Thinking, no doubt, that I came from the Robbers'
Roost to kill him, the trader let out a rough growl,
his hand went to his hip, and in another instant I
should have been shot. The boys jumped straight
at him, held him back, and explained that I was not
armed. Then I ate my words. Bad manners in a
drawing room are detestable enough, but on the
Desert a thing beyond excuse.
— 1HAVE to deal now with matters still more remote from London and suburban secular interests, from the tables of the money-changers,
and the seats of them which sell clients. There is
one more trail, the last, the loneliest, which many of
us in the Legion have traveled, leaving no word, a
trail which has no name.
It is such an old trail; " now Moses . . . led
the flock to the backside of the Desert, where the
Spirit appeared unto him in a flame of fire." Many
have followed in his track, have been their " forty
days in the wilderness," have seen things unspeakable: young Indians fasting as suppliants for the
ordeal by torture which shall approve them warriors;
sailors waiting the end where white wings hover about
some lost boat, and the sea, sunward, is gold like unto
clear glass; travelers led on by mirage into dreamland—all who have entered the Valley of the Shadow.
I have to deal with that unearthly trail, and some,
reading between the lines, may understand.
I came to a part of the Desert where there stood
natural rocks which, sculptured by slow abrasion of
the wind-borne sand, stood sheer upon a plain like
castles, temples, and embattled palaces of some dream-
city. They seemed quite near when first I saw them
through the quivering heat, but a ride of fifty miles
hardly brought me abreast of their walls, their spires.
Three times from high rock slopes I saw the long battlements loom above blue haze; and solitary mounds,
columns, cathedrals, appeared at intervals for several
days, outlying the city. No building ever raised by
human hands could rival those lone rocks in their
awfulness, their haunting beauty.
Then I came to a wave of sandstone towering about
a hundred and fifty feet over the rock sea. Its known
length is more than a hundred miles, and, like the
crest of a tidal wave, its overhanging comb seems
poised for the fall—yet, frozen as though by enchantment, remains poised forever. For a day I rode under
the wave seeking a passage, and when at last a passable traverse was reached, I found it led only into a
chaos of other such breakers most difficult to thread.
[ 302 ] II
Good photographs, both of this comb-ridge and the
monuments, I got from the Mormons at Bluff, but
ranking, as they must, among the earth's wonders, I
have not seen mention of them in any published records
of travel. They are upon the Navajo Reservation,
just south of the Rio San Juan.
Before leaving Bluff in the San Juan Canyon, to
traverse this Navajo Desert, I was warned that, apart
from the certainty of death by thirst, I should be
most assuredly scalped. Also a party of prospectors
came in gaunt with thirst and called me a fool. So
I engaged a Navajo, the respectable Manito. He
spoke Spanish, I English, so there was a silence between us which might be felt. He found his own
horse, but where the deuce he discovered such a scarecrow remains to this day a mystery of the Desert.
He found fuel for camping, grass occasionally, sometimes even the trail; but one night made a dry camp,
lost within a hundred yards of a running stream,
which here, emerging for a while from underground,
flowed openly on the surface. At one dollar and a
half a day and the run of his teeth, Manito showed
a patience in delays and a forbearance from work
which shone out in beautiful contrast to my sore haste
over cooking, packing, and driving, but still he would
take quite an interest in killing off rattlesnakes where
we camped, and in bashfully secreting such of my
goods as pleased him. My horses at the time were a
brace of lively cow-ponies, Messrs. Chub and Burley
by name, who traveled all day for my amusement,
all night for their own, making Manito sweat in
pursuit, which was contrary to the gentleman's
Several times a day we met Navajos of the tribe,
when, lounging in the saddle, Manito would show me
off, in clucks and grunts explaining my points—his
new white squaw who did all his work, paying for the
privilege of serving so great a chief. One warrior
with easy assurance, showing forth his English, demanded :
" Where you from ? "
" England," I answered humbly.
" England?   Is that a fort? "
There was contempt in every inflection of his voice
as he, the lordly Navajo (pronounced Navaho),
armed with bow and arrows, sat his scarecrow, rattled
his harness of massive silver, fingered five hundred dollars' worth of  turquoise necklace, hitched up his ten-
cent breech clout, and inquired as to this England,
this trader's hut, beyond the edge of his world.
The Navajos have a right to their pride. The
tide of the Spanish conquest, flooding up out of
Mexico, beat against this rock of the Navajo nation,
and rolled back for the first time impotent. On the
east the flood swept past far into Colorado, on the
west lapped the base of Alaska, but this tiny power
split the deluge in two. From here to Cape Horn
was Spanish Empire, but the Navajos held their own.
In later times they raided Spanish estates, lifted Mormon cattle, drove a Supai tribe over the mile-deep
wall of the Grand Canyon; in fact they became a
nuisance. At last in 1865 came one, Kit Carson, at
the head of a force of Frontier cavalry, who armed
the rival tribes, the Mexicans, the Mormons, and all
their countless enemies, with guns against the Navajo
arrows, shot down their sheep by thousands, burned
all their cornfields, cut away their orchards of peach
trees. Desperately as they fought, the courage was
starved out of the Navajos, and in twelve months they
were reduced to eating rats. Then Carson rounded
them up, twelve thousand in number, drove them to
Fort Sumner, threw them into a corral, and for two
[ 305 ]
years fed them on rancid bacon and moldy corn.
Their spirit was broken at last, and the chiefs crawled
on their bellies to beg the white man for mercy. So
they came home to their desert.
Now they number twenty-two thousand, and, with
their herds of sheep, cattle, horses, and goats, are perhaps the richest savages in the world; pursue their
ancient industries of farming maize by the streams,
weaving curious robes in their earthen huts, forging
silver, and cutting turquoise from their hidden mines,
and, haughtier than ever, lack nothing from the despised white man except tobacco and sugar.
Through all the canyons and ravines of this region
I saw houses of masonry built like swallows' nests in
the caverns and hollows of the cliffs—but the race
which built them has perished. To the eastward there
are towers of dry masonry built like the old Scotch
peels—but the race which built them has perished.
To the southward, all over the wide deserts of Arizona
and northern Mexico, I saw the ditches of a nation of
farmers whose irrigated lands were greater than
Egypt in acreage, whose hundreds of walled cities are
crumbling slowly to ruin. The Spaniards who came,
stuffy and uncomfortable in plate-armor, found these
[ 306 ] THE   DESERT
cities in their prime, but by smallpox and gunpowder,
fire-water and slavery, reduced the people to dry
Catholic bones, all save the few surviving pueblos of
the Moqui and the Zuni. The ruins are guarded now
by rattlesnakes which once were worshiped in forgotten shrines, and the American uses the ancient
ditches to water modern farms. These villages in the
cliffs, these towers on the hills, these cities of the plain,
are dead, but they are not very old. Long before
their time Mexico and Central America were populous
with nations whose palaces and temples are still rich in
gorgeous painting and most intricate sculptures,
whose recovered calendars date six thousand years of
vivid history. They are older than Egypt, yet they
are not old. When the Toltecs were young the Mississippi valley had ancient cities, metropolitan in extent, and of age past counting. And fifty thousand
assured years before the mound-builders, there was a
community in the Columbia valley of farmers and
sculptors. How many ages of savagery went before
that earliest of known civilizations?
The sculptors, the mound-builders, the ancient
Mexicans, these cave-lurkers, tower-dwellers, and city-
builders of the Desert, the Red Indians, the Vikings,
i [307]   I
-    »■     ■! ill
the Spaniards, Dutch, Russians, English, Americans
—nation upon nation, race upon race, as clouds driven
before the wind, as stones built into a tower—Have
mercy, Almighty, have mercy!
The sun blistered my hands, my mouth was, as
usual, sticky and uncomfortable, furnace-blasts of
wind lifted the sand in my face, the tracks had played
out, and I almost wished I still had the Navajo to
guide me, for I was lost. Such herbs and bushes as
could live in that desert guarded their reserves of
moisture under an armament of spines, hooks, spears,
poison, and foul taste or nauseating smell. The poor
things must make themselves appear unpleasant or be
eaten, as also the rattlesnakes, tarantulas, scorpions,
centipedes, and Gila monsters. All living creatures,
editors included, would be gentle and charming but
for their business necessities.
But it was a bad look-out for me and my weary
horses; indeed, Burley, the pack animal, got sick of
the whole enterprise, and started off S. S. W. at a gallop. This was rough on Chub, the hot, fat saddle-
beast, especially as the chase led out of the sand-
drift on to naked up-edged rock.   We were sure lost,
f [ 308] |
all three of us; and little I guessed the wisdom which
led Burley, until, discouraged by a long race, I looked
up at the bare rock ridges—and saw close by a gallant
row of Lombardy poplars! It was the Mormon Oasis
of Tuba, and we were sure saved, all three of us.
The stubborn courage of these Western Boers—
they are just like Boers—is spreading such colonies
over the Desert, north into Canada, south into Mexico. I have seen their stores, their ditches for irrigation, their mills, their dairies, all co-operative; a
people abstemious, with clean homes, and many signs
of living religion which restrains from sin. Without
being in the least self-righteous about it, they pay
tithes of all they possess.
Now I belong to a Church which would consider
such a demand nothing less than extortion. We reserve our smallest silver for the offertory, our warmest advice for the poor, and temper our piety with enlightened avariciousness as an example to all Jews,
Turks, Infidels, and Heretics. We are, therefore, in a
position to throw stones at these horrid Mormons,
who believe in bigamy as a means of grace.
From a secular point of view, I think that the Mormon prospers at the price of his liberty.   The Church
[ 309 ]
co-operative store, underselling the little tradesmen,
kills out all private enterprise. The Bishop, pious
rather than literate, is a deadly enemy to the man
who dares to think. There is plenty of physical
vigor, dancing, love-making, laughter; but books,
magazines, and newspapers, I seldom managed to find
in a Mormon home, and the people were in a state of
mental death. It was a relief to find a Gentile village,
drunken, profligate, wildly licentious, but alive, full
of brave little business ventures, prosperous, growing,
where men could think, debate, and fight with hope
in their eyes.
For hundreds of miles along the trail, I read the
Book of Mormon, the tracts of the Saints. These are
desert waters. See—the water of the Desert is foul
with the feet of famishing beasts, bitter with salts,
reeking with microbes, stinking, but still life to a
dying man. Though a distorted Christianity has enslaved free men, the Faith is still inspired, still divine.
The Latter-Day Saints are only singular in that, rejecting the pure waters of Life, they have come into
the Desert with sufficient thirst to swallow anything.
Beyond the Mormon Oasis, I came to the Painted
Desert, where the sands have a strange power of re-
[ 310 ] THE   DESERT
fracting sunlight so that the slopes glow topaz, the
cliffs are ruby and hyacinth, and the air is like thin
white flame. It was natural in such a place to find a
prospector who told me that voices of the Dead were
leading him in search for a cave of gold. That is the
madness of the Desert, common enough, for at many
a campfire one hears of lost mines fabulously rich,
of men who went out sane to return as maniacs, of
Indian secrets, of guiding charts, of bloodstained
trails, of dying miners speechless, laden with gold.
A big bright diamond high on the face of a precipice
—I have seen it myself, and might be in an asylum
but for the slabs of mica by the trail which told me
the secret of that shining fraud. A prospector who
found real diamonds which look like bits of gum
arabic would throw them away. So I noted, on the
long trail, hills of kaolin, walls of oil-shale, bitumen,
and asphalt, traces of cinnabar, opal, ruby, corundum, tin. These might be ever so valuable, but the
prospector passes them by in his search for the
precious metals. Lost gold mines appeal to his mind,
not a romance in fire clay.
Out of the heat mist of the Painted Desert my
trail led up a fifty-mile hill into a great cool forest of
lit I  i[3ii]
pine trees.   There is no water.   The polecats go mad,
and of all the grizzly horrors in that land of death,
the hydrophobia skunk is much the worst.
The skunk is a beast the size of a cat, with nice
long hair of banded brown and white from nose to
tail. He is a natural scent-bottle, and delights in his
duty, which is to sprinkle perfume on his tail, then
with a sharp jerk spray the fluid upon you. He gives
freely, intending attar of roses, never grudging the
pleasure which he was designed to bestow with his tail,
and, being nose-blind, he has never found out that the
attar of roses has gone bad. Should one drop alight
upon you the very dogs will run away holding their
noses; you must take a scalding bath, and your clothes
must be buried.
They love man, seek after him, and even camp in
his cellar; hence the courtly Mexican phrase: " My
house is yours, Senor!" And when, poor things,
they suffer from hydrophobia, they attack man, catch
him asleep in camp, and bite his face. Then the
man must go to the Pasteur Institute at Chicago, if
there is time; or presently he will dread the sight of
water, go mad, and be racked to death with convulsions.      Many have died that death.     Sleeping one
night in the Coconino Forest, I was awakened by a
large animal on my pillow, a skunk mad with hydrophobia, trying to reach that eager nose which has so
often led me into trouble. I shooed him away, and
threw rocks, so that, maybe, he also was alarmed.
Under the shadow of the San Francisco peaks, I
left my horses for a week's rest. The Desert is a
region of fantastical contrasts, and here, of all things,
coaches loaded with tourists went by in clouds of dust.
No opium dream could have felt more outrageous to
common sense than coming out of the Valley of the
Shadow of Death to travel by coach among these
pantomime figures, taking themselves so seriously in
dusters, Kodaks, and eyeglasses, as we whirled through
the forest glades, bound for the Grand Canyon of
the Colorado. I would have pinched them to see if
they were real, but for the fear of being rude. At
the Canyon Hotel, rather tired after the seventy-mile
drive, I was lashed to frenzied excitement by a discovery made the moment I entered the barroom. On
pegs hung three pairs of green-duck bloomers and
three pair blue, on hire at a shilling a time for the
solace of ladies riding down into the canyon; and
quite lately I found there had been no less than four
hundred Female Christian Endeavorers disputing
viciously for possession. Quite apart from the ethical
unseemliness of scratched faces, four hundred F. C.
E. into six B. won't go.
I sat on the rim rock at dawn staring down into
space, into blue mist which had no bottom, as though
the floor of the world had dropped out. Only when
the rose flush caught the farther wall could I see dim
shapes of mountains far beneath. That northern
wall was twelve miles away, as far as the Bronx from
the Battery, and in the depths between all New York
might be lost.
Those mounds down in the mist were mountains
bigger than the Catskills. I was sitting in a pine
forest like those of Norway, but the depths at my feet
were in the climate of Central Africa.
After breakfast we rode down by a trail blasted
in the face of the cliffs, which cost ten thousand dollars, and is so steep that, rather than haul up water
from the river, the hotel sends wagons forty miles
to the nearest springs. It was like riding down the
outside of St. Paul's Cathedral, from cross to pavement, multiplied by fifteen.
Shrinking past the lean flanks of the upper cliffs,
[ 314 ]
the trail bridges a cleft to an outlying turret, winds
round the sheer walls, loops down into the beginning
of a chasm, and hangs over empty space. A mule
fell off once out of sight and hearing, but, though
never seen again, it appealed plaintively for weeks
to the nostrils of passing tourists. Mules are specially broke for this trail, because they are handy
with their feet and can live without grass or water.
The lion and the tiger, all the beasts of the field, they
get their meat from God; but the mule is an unnatural hybrid, so he does not get his meat from God.
He gobbles up the leavings. The lady tourists are
fearless, the men wabbly, and the distance to the river
and back, though only fourteen miles, takes fourteen hours.
Sheer from the level forest falls the first wall of
primrose flecked with orange, in long, curved bays of
precipice, each headland guarded by columns of outstanding rock. Below is the labyrinth of mountains,
vaguely suggesting sculptured Hindoo temples of red
sandstone intricately carved, floating ethereal above
the shadows of innumerable canyons; and far down
beneath, under the shadows of the scarlet city, there
is the last deep violet chasm where one may catch
I [315]
a glimpse of a river sunk in the foundations of
the world. That lost river winds for six hundred
miles, sunken thousands of feet beneath the deserts.
Such is the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, greatest
of all the wonders of the Desert. Though I have
wallowed in frantic description, please do not think
that I am getting up on my hind-legs and pawing
at the moon.    It is all true.
In the Great Desert I had an impression of riding
through time, through ages, a wild jumble of shuffled
centuries. This Desert is the scrap-heap of world-
making, the dust-bin of History, full of sweepings
thrown from the mills of God. The cowboys are
cavaliers left over from Cromwell's wars, the Navajos
are spare barbarians from ancient Asia, the tourists
are shopworn goods from the twentieth century, the
outlaws soiled knights from King Arthur's chivalry. So far my mind had tenure of what I saw,
a basis for some sort of reasoning. The Yellowstone
Park was a discarded garden from the New Jerusalem,
the rock monuments in the Navajo Desert a sketchy
design for some thirtieth-century metropolis, the
Grand Canyon an experimental cataclysm from the
[316] <*
second day of the creation. Even so far my brain
could accept the facts reverentially, with little
prayers for help to understand. But when at last
I fought through the red-hot valley of central Arizona, reason revolted in open mutiny. This place
was a mistake, a fragment from some other planet,
thrown on the wrong scrap-heap. Heaven knows I
tried humbly to understand the world I have lived in,
an insect intelligence groping among constellations of
facts, an atom in creation playing as best I could,
obedient to the rules of the game; but my little
prayers fell flat in the Gila Desert. For hundreds
of miles through unsupportable heat, over fields of
broken lava, among weird hills, extended that garden
of the flowering cacti. The Spanish bayonet, the
prickly pear, the ocotillo, high as an apple tree, of
emerald sticks with gem-like foliage guarded under
thorns, the splendid maguay and organos farther
south, the ethereal orchards of acacia, and above all,
in thousands of columns branching like candelabra,
the hosts of the giant suhuaro. Every plant, every
reptile is the armed and deadly enemy of mankind
—the region is not of this kindly earth, not of this
time, but belongs to some far planet in outer space,
jmm f
where plains of dull flame, rocks of old ice, are lighted
by swinging pairs of scarlet stars.
Out of the silence of that world I came to a ditch
of muddy water. Beyond, for ten delightful miles,
the road was shaded with real leafy trees. Cattle
switched lazy tails under the walnuts, labor-stained
farmers were driving their gaudy women to squander
dollars in town. So I reached Phoenix, a town of
twelve thousand people, with electric street-cars and
electric lights. The sidewalk was blithe with men,
cowboys, prospectors, farm-hands, negroes, Apache
Indians, low-caste Mexicans. It was Sunday, and in
the crowded saloons gamblers in their shirt-sleeves sat
impassive before their heaps of gold and silver, dealing
faro, keno, poker, craps, roulette—the whole Sabbath
service. Bartenders in white linen and diamonds dealt
mixed drinks to the crowd. After sundown, ladies
in evening dress and grease paint stood drinking
cocktails in the intervals of their labor at the clanging,
clattering piano. Last wreek two men had held up
the Palace saloon, grabbed the gold from the tables,
scattered loose coin across the floor, then vanished in
a cloud of revolver smoke. Know all men by these
presents that Arizona has turned respectable, and is a
law-abiding   community.    Already   the   people   can
abide the law, so long as it is not enforced.
I was lost in the Desert as usual, and an old man
found me sorely distressed. " A bad country ? Aye,
youngster, it's as bad as there is," he chuckled.
" Show me a worse, and," he laughed triumphantly,
P I'll pull out for it to-morrow! "
We were chasing his pack-horse over rock heaps,
and my eyes dwelt with fervor upon the boyish grace
of his riding. The sunlight caught the warm-hued
leather of his " snaps," the long waves of his silvery
hair. His sombrero darkened a wrinkled, bronzed old
face of singular beauty, and his clear blue eyes looked
into mine as he spoke. " Picked this up this morning,"—he passed me the fragment of a charred skull,
—" old white man like me—I found the stake—the
damned Apaches got him—yes, it's a bad country:
t'other day I found a boot with a leg in it. Good
enough country for poor old Texas Bob," and he
laughed like a boy as he looked out into the distance.
We were nearing an awful golden ridge, which for
two lost days I had tried to avoid  afraid of any more
" Why," said Texas Bob, " that's no sand, partner,
that's grass! "
Grass! For months I had been carrying oats in
my pack on which the horses were burning their poor
stomachs. Grass! I had seen no grass like that
for two thousand miles!
The great frontiersman gave me bread and
water at his camp—a banquet, then a pipe, while
we watched the little children " roping" reluctant
1 Thar, stranger," he said at last, when I had
watered my horses, " you go south a piece and you'll
see whar my wagon passed two months ago. Follow
up to the left—it's only thirty-five miles—and you'll
make the city.    Good-by."
So, where his wagon-wheels had bent the grass, making the blades to faintly catch the light, I scouted
carefully, throwing back at times for a second try,
on over golden hills and little valleys until the evening; then, after a luxurious night, rode hour upon
hour. Another track j oined in, a third, a well-defined
trail from the east, an old road, and then all rolled
into a great, broad highway where cowboys were
driving cattle, wagons crawled in the dust-clouds, and
glittering coaches flashed by on their way to the city
of Tucson.
Read now these Articles of War, the Laws of the
southern Desert: For any man who fails of water
on the trail, the punishment shall be—death; for
touching insects and sly reptiles—death; for meeting
Apaches on the warpath—death; for getting foul of
escaped murderers from the Eastern States—death;
fooling with Mexican outlaws or officials—death; for
neglecting courtesy to man or woman, the duel and
To live in the Arizona deserts one must pass the
little examinations, or be plowed under, and that
is why the men are all so quiet, so deadly smooth.
They are the finest men I ever met, but they have
paid for their education. I was the guest of one
rancher, the best of citizens, who never kills except
in self-defense, and yet is said to have twenty-seven
notches on his gunstock.
I found that I was making myself unpleasantly
conspicuous in dress by wearing no revolver. The
weapon, to my mind, is a worse nuisance than even
the umbrella of civilized man, which gets wet and
unpleasant every time there is rain.    A rotten bad
[ 321 ]
shot, always getting the worst of it in gun-fights, I
should prefer some weapon—such as a cold boiled
ham—which would be really useful at close quarters;
but after reaching the Mexican Border, rather than
be flouted as a lunatic, I became the slave of fashion
and carried a rattletrap, second-hand Colt just for
moral effect.
If ever I mentioned such peculiar details of life
as the habit of homicide, the Arizona men assured me
with pained eagerness that they were dead gentle. Indeed, in the whole summer there had only been twenty
men shot, four wounded, and five cases of robbery-
under-arms. It was an " exceptional season," I was
told, and for a population one-fourth that of a
single city ward, the most truculent critic must admit
the charge sheet as being quite moderate. The
Gloge coach, for example, was stopped by a little
robber and a big robber, who, after collecting four
hundred dollars, politely returned a dollar to each of
the passengers. The little robber was so shy that he
kept twiddling with his revolver, to the extreme discomfort of everybody concerned; and he frankly
admitted afterwards having been in a horrible fright.
My mother was dying," ran the confession in prison;
***** nilSti'i '*-. THE   DESERT
" I had to get to her somehow, and it was the only
possible way to raise the money." The little robber
was Miss Pearl Hart, of the sign of the Red Lamp,
and all Arizona was glad when that poor wild bird,
having failed in an attempt to kill herself, made a
clever escape from the cage. She chirped too much
at large and was retaken, but Arizona juries are
In another case a rancher was too attentive to his
housekeeper, and she, making complaint to his cowboys, they rescued her. They then gave the rancher
a decent funeral.
Here is a tale of border chivalry, told me by a
cowboy in hiding, sore and remorseful: Mr. Texas had
served through the Mashona and Matabele campaigns
when, sick of bloodshed, he came back for rest in his
home on the Mexican border. " Very first evening,"
he said, " mother told me the niggers was stealing her
hawgs. I went for them niggers after supper—got
three, and one wounded. Call that peace? 'Course
I had to ride for it—whole tribe of 'em after me.
When I got to Pecos River, I calls on old Roy Bean
for advice; you know his sign over the saloon,
j? Whisky,   Beer,   and   Justice   west   of  the   Pecos.'
* Well,' says the old judge, * it's a sure bad case-
—only got three niggers, you say ? Cost fifteen hundred dollars to get you clear! I guess it would be
cheaper to give you a fresh horse.' He gave me a
fresh horse, and I came to Naco.
|| Ever been at Naco? Well, half the town's in
Mexico and half in the United States—wide street
keeps 'em apart—so thought I'd be plumb good there.
"Then comes Johnny Norris' trouble (Sept. 11,
1899); he kept a saloon on the Mexican side, and
there was something wrong with his bills of sale over
a horse-trade, not enough stamps on 'em for the taxes.
The police was going to take Johnny up country and
murder him on the way to jail, as usual; so some of us
cowboys jumped in. Bob Clayton got killed, another
fellow captured, but we sure lammed hell out of them
Mexican guards. They got away, though, with poor
Norris. So that night three of us rode out and
laid for the escort on the trail. There was only
three Mexicans in charge of Norris, and one of
'em got away, wounded, 'cause it was too dark
to shoot for sure. Now, partner, you'd think that
Norris would be just falling all over himself
with  thankfulness,  eh?     Well,   he   didn't;   he  was
[ 324 ] THE  DESERT |
sure wild, wanted to know what we meant by
making trouble for him with the Mexicans! Come
across to the United States ? Not much! Why, he'd
got away from penitentiary—twenty years—murder,
and he'd no more use for the United States than a
hen for a fry-pan. Of course we couldn't do nothin',
just had to kick ourselves all the way home to Naco,
U. S. A.    Nice peaceful time I was having!
" Next morning the United States Marshal comes
up, and says he was going to arrest me. ' Is that
so ? ' says I. | Well,' says he, looking down my gun-
bar'l, ' of course if you put it that way—you'd better
ride!' So I just rolled my tail, and here I am hid
up, Mexico howling for me one side of the line,
and Uncle Sam the other. All I want," he added
piteously, " is peace and quietness, if only they'd
leave me alone."
On the 23d of October the Bisbee people came down
to Naco for a baseball match, and the Mexican guards,
alarmed at being invaded, promptly opened fire on
an excursion train full of women and children. They
erroneously wounded one bystander. Also an American, a very full citizen, did indeed invade Mexico,
and the Mexicans got him down, beating him over the
■ ,f     . [ 325 ] FOLLOWING   THE   FRONTIER
head and trying hard to subdue him. Three cowboys, jumping to the rescue, were captured.
So I found the border lined on both sides with
National troops, and a hundred and fifty cowboys
preparing to march on the City of Mexico.
The Mexicans had to release their captives-—too
hot to hold; and judging by the dismal ululations
of the wounded guards, whom I saw at La Morita, a
very little cowboy goes a long way.
Following the border-line eastward, I chartered a
Mexican to pilot me across the Rocky Mountains,
which he did so slowly that on the third day I emptied
my canteens—surely a little thirst would quicken the
gentleman's gait. As usual I added up the facts all
wrong, for, with many fine Spanish phrases of courtesy, he left me to the sole enjoyment of the dry canteens. Obedient to his parting advice, I might have
found a spring, or might not, eighty miles south-
southeast, but the person had a bad eye, and rather
than trust I scouted for signs of water over country
richly grassed, swarming with deer, and embossed with
the very choicest of fresh grizzly tracks. The Desert
is a book, the tracks are printed type, a dozen little
signs are readable facts, and from all these I gathered
[326] THE   DESERT
a solution. Such trails as there were on the land had
not been used for at least twelve months, there was no
water within fifteen miles, therefore the guide, in revenge for the slight of the canteens, had intended
my death. Happily, while he led me, I had noted a
live trail leading eastward; so on the second day I lit
out for that clew to water, riding northeast across
country, found it, followed it, and fell in with an
American cowboy.
" What's the matter with you? " he asked, when
we had talked of the weather. " Can't hear your
voice—what's wrong? "
" Canteen's empty," said I.    " I'm rather thirsty."
" Why, mine's full! " he cried.
It did not remain full.
" Last night," I asked, " did you see a big fire in
the south?    I signaled for help."
" Or to scare away the Apaches? " He spoke with
scorching contempt, and I never again lighted a fire
in that land of the raiding savages. He brought me
to a little ranch where two years before the Apaches
had scalped a man on the doorstep, and there we
found a dozen cowTboys camped for a bear hunt. I
was very weak, they tender as brothers, and when I
I:     *     fff [327]   I 1 FOLLOWING   THE   FRONTIER
was fit for the trail they passed me on from camp to
camp to the edge of the Mexican cattle range, soothing my bruised vanity with surprise that I had won
through alive.
I never camped again, but disposing of my pack-
horse, relied henceforward upon big fortified houses
rarely more than a day's ride apart. Twenty years
ago this country, over an area as large as France, was
swept bare by the Apaches. They stole the cattle,
outraged the women, dashed the babies against walls,
tortured the men to death. Now these nice Indians
are pets of the United States Government, and only
get an occasional traveler. The bloodstained land is
stocked with fresh cattle and a new people, ruled by
great Frontier lords with more than feudal power.
The ranch of Don Luis Terrazas, where I crossed it,
was just two hundred miles wide. I found his Mexican cowboys a never-ending delight, for every branding is as good as a first-rate bull-fight. The rush of
a wild bull-calf from the pen, the swift roping and
tying down, his smoke and execrations under the iron,
then the release of the scorched and outraged animal,
who clears out thirty cowboys in ten seconds, charging the last man as he leaps, and bringing down the
[328] THE   DESERT
wall—the bull feasts of Spain were tame compared
with it. In tight leg-armor, and leather Eton jacket,
a sugar-loaf sombrero heavy with silver lace, spurs of
a four-inch rowel, a serape cloak which would knock
a rainbow cold, the Mexican cowboy is more than picturesque. Amid the smoke and thunder of the corral
work they are all polite as dukes over their cigarettes, weighing the low-rolling periods of their majestic Spanish—grave, quiet, with the swagger of
troopers, flash of weapons, gleam of white teeth, and
fiery, brave black eyes. They are rich on twenty
cents a day, and the girls adore them.
One day I met the eldest son of the great Terrazas,
traveling the Desert in state. First came an advanced
guard, then the multitude of his riders, ten abreast,
the wranglers with the horse herd, a bullock cart with
cargo, a group of officers, then, far in their rear, a
coach covered with servants, drawn by six white mules,
the leaders four abreast, at full gallop. All this
ninth-century feudal pageant I knocked endways with
the mere clicking of my Kodak camera from the
saddle, then made a final snap at my lord himself, and
a sweeping salute for farewell.
At the end of the Terrazas ranch was the city of
Chihuahua (pronounced Chewawa), and as I rode a
scrubby little pony up the main street, I saw dancing
ahead a horse such as one might dream of in paradise. Hungry for him I drew abreast, spoke to the
rider and gloated. He was a milk-white Arab gelding, thoroughbred bar the useful size of the feet, mane
and tail like drifting snow, eye decidedly bad, build
perfection. He introduced himself just then by rearing up and coming down on the top of me all
a-straddle, and nearly broke my off knee as I swerved.
Five days later he was mine—I said my prayers and
gave my spurs away before I mounted; and for once
I judged right of a horse. Greasy heels and a thousand-mile stretch failed to lower the infernal pride
of his neck, or break the superb grace of his action.
All that for fifty dollars in gold!
So I rode down the narrowing tail of the continent,
deaf and dumb with regard to Spanish, always more
or less lost, on that utterly untamable beauty who
thought he owned me. The people of the country
believe that China is the greatest of nations, Spain
the leading republic, England a part of London, and
the United States easy to conquer bar one obstruction
•—Texas!    They  know the  Texans  of  old—would
I      [ 330 ] THE   DESERT
rather fight mad dragons, and they mistook me for a
Texas cowboy such as they would not confide to Satan
for fear of corrupting his morals; yet never in hut
or palace was I denied a courtly welcome. Each
night some housewife accepted the care of my revolver, and her husband charge of my gear, the honor
of the house being bound. The black man would
feed my horse while I stood by with a club lest the
forage be grabbed by his starving goats and swine,
his hungry horse or mule, his ravenous poultry. The
wife made me maize pancakes like unto.damp brown
paper, beans, and chile—which is stewed cayenne
pepper eaten with a ladle. At night the embroidered
sheets from the best bed would be laid down on a cowhide for me, and I, the uninvited Texas cowboy, was
trusted to sleep in the one room with the fowls and the
family. Would an English householder trust a tramp
like that? And only in the poorest mud huts could
I venture to force a silver dollar on the wife, when at
parting she muttered " Mayest thou ride with God! "
A clay hut, a fortified homestead, a town in some
vale of farms, such were the halting places, a day's
ride apart where there was water, for the last seven
hundred miles of the Great Desert.    It seemed as
though there were never to be an end. Then I came
to Zacatecas, a city of silver mines perched on the
very watershed of the continent, on the crest of the
Mother Range. I left the city, the Desert still reaching away ahead.
A farmer joined me, wearing the usual suit of
leather laced with silver and gold, cloak, sword, revolver—so all Mexicans ride; and for twenty miles
we smoked slow cigarettes, swapped stately Spanish
compliments. Then we came to a cactus hedge just
inside the tropics, a hedge of prickly pear. Behind
me lay three thousand miles of conquered Desert, in
front, for ever and ever, fields of maize.
[332] XVIII
THE big fight was over, the Desert conquered, and there remained only a road as
long, say, as that from New York to
Poughkeepsie, through civilized country down to the
City of Mexico. So I thought, while the influenza
caught in Zacatecas gripped every bone, set the blood
racing with fever, and reduced me to the flat of my
back save only during weary hours in the saddle as
I fought on from town to town.
Here were all the blessings of civilization, the cheating, theft, beggary, but, added to these, certain
peculiar graces of Mexico—heartless cruelty towards
animals, and the unspeakable corruption of the governing officials. The blessed natives might stew in
their own juice for all I cared, but when I found them
subtly stealing forage from my horse there was
always more or less violence. At Silao it pleased me
to charge the manager of the Grand Hotel with that
abhorred crime, and I was certainly very rude. It
is a curious trait of the Mexican that after a spasm of
rage he develops blotches on the skin, local paralysis,
or epileptic fits entailing a doctor's bill, sometimes the
further account of an undertaker. Therefore I
soothed the manager of the Grand Hotel with that
cold, bland, deadly insult which so endears the Englishman to all foreigners. He went through shades
of lemon to the pallor of an unripe orange, his legs
wabbled, and I hoped for fits; but unhappily he was
a Spaniard by birth, and therefore not liable. The
only result, indeed, was that the hotel was surrounded
by troops, and in solemn procession my horse and I
were both marched off to prison. There, after the
usual indignities, I was placed in a fine large cell
barred off from the jail-birds of the common yard.
Mine was only a police-court affair—" insulting a
citizen "; and the procedure would begin with seventy-
two hours' detention, during which no word could
reach a friend or advocate outside the walls. A
magistrate would then presume guilt, and punish accordingly. My adversary appeared to own the Chief
of the Police, and in any case a white man, once captured, is blackmailed to his last dollar before he escapes
the net. One Englishman, in default of the customary bribes, had at that time been lying five years in a
Mexican jail, untried, and beyond all aid from the
British Foreign Office. Another innocent man I
afterwards found lying at Vera Cruz, Mr. Angus
M'Kay, a British subject of the cleanest reputation,
under no charge whatever, ten months detained, unable to pay blackmail. His comrade was just dead
that morning of yellow fever, he himself was visibly
sickening for the black vomit, and we who saved him
were only just in time. There are dozens of such
cases, and no foreigner in Mexico is safe from the
fiendish atrocities of Mexican law.
Where there is common danger, Americans and
British are one body for the common defense, and a
number of Americans who had witnessed my arrest
strained every nerve for my rescue. At dusk, Dr.
George Byron Hyde came to me with word from the
Governor of the town that I might be released on payment of twelve dollars and a half. This I flatly declined, demanding that the Governor of the city call
and make his personal apology to me on pain of a
telegram to the British Minister. When I had been
five hours in prison, the Governor called upon me, and
we walked out arm-in-arm. Then Dr. Hyde took my
horse and me to his own home.
The jail cured the influenza, but gave me dysentery, and the rest of my ride to the City of Mexico I
only remember as a long nightmare of pain. There
is no need to dwell on that, for all the land was beautiful, all the people were rich in courtesy, in charm,
in music, poetry, flowers, in splendor of dress, and in
their lovely cities. If the people lived for something
better than their emotions, cared for graver ideals
than mere display, there might be a real Republic,
not a ghastly sham. Workers, thinkers, fighters,
build up a sovereign State, not fops, not cowards.
The workers, thinkers, and fighters seemed mainly
It was a relief to get away from such a civilization
up into the mountains which guard the valley of Mexico. The January days were sweet with a breath of
spring, and on one lonely hillside I found a hawthorn bush flecked with the scented blossom of the
may. There were groves of oak and glades of grass,
and in the wild bed of a dry torrent swept the long
trail down. One night more I slept at a wayside
house, one last day rode over forty miles of rocky
1 0 [336]    | | A RECORD  IN  HORSEMANSHIP
hills, then in the cool of evening gained a level plain
with avenues of trees, white glittering towns, canals,
roads, railways, all converging southward. The
darkness fell as I entered a long chain of suburbs
bright with the sparkle of electric lamps; and five
miles on, the denser traffic, the wider streets, the palaces, churches, gardens, the lights and glitter of a
brilliant capital. I had built up a day-dream in the
Desert that, entering the City of Mexico, I would ride
to the doors of some big hotel, leave my horse with the
porter, ask the office clerk for his book, and register
my name, from Fort Macleod, Canada. But when I
came to the reality, the hotel man, looking me over,
decided that all his rooms were full, that he could not
have his tourists scared by a travel-worn cowboy, with
a probable propensity for casual shots at the waiters.
His was a respectable house, so I took my white horse
elsewhere, and that was the end.
The ride from Canada measured 3600 statute miles,
as far, say, as from London to Timbuctoo, or perhaps
Chicago. Three good horses covered nearly the whole
distance, but, including pack animals, I used in all
nine, at a total cost of $220.50. The time from June
28, 1899, to January 21, 1900, was 200 days at 18
miles a day, but for the 147 actual days of travel the
average was a little better.
. . . • •
A bell tingled somewhere in the engine-room, and
we slowed down, rocking ever so softly. Glazed water
reaching through white mist, chill dew on deck and
spars, passengers venturing muffled remarks through
borrowed opera-glasses—but still we could only feel
the land, not see. Up on the bridge the Liverpool
pilot held high discourse with the captain, we, underneath, straining intent ears for any crumbs which fell
from that banquet of news. The passenger who had
the glasses leaned forward, peering; we, hustling
him, craned all our necks to see.
There," he whispered, awestruck, " at last after
seventeen years—England!" and, indeed, there was
a blur upon the mist,—a ship? a square-topped house?
a hoarding? No. It seemed to be a placard painted
with some great sign of welcome—loving words to
greet us on the sea—yes, " Bald's Hair Restorer "!
[338]  Author of "A Gentleman of France "
the long night
ENEVA in the early days of the 17th century;
a ruffling young theologue new to the city; a
beautiful and innocent girl, suspected of witchcraft ; a crafty scholar and metaphysician seeking
to give over the city into the hands of the Savoyards; a stern and powerful syndic whom the
scholar beguiles to betray his office by promises
of an elixir which shall save him from his fatal
illness ; a brutal soldier of fortune ; these are the
elements of which Weyman has composed the
most brilliant and thrilling of his romances.
Claude Mercier, the student, seeing the plot in
which the girl he loves is involved, yet helpless
to divulge it, finds at last his opportunity when
the treacherous men of Savoy are admitted within
Geneva's walls, and in a night of whirlwind fighting saves the city by his courage and address.
For fire and spirit there are few chapters in
modern literature such as those which picture the
splendid defence of Geneva, by the staid, churchly,
heroic burghers, fighting in their own blood under
the divided leadership of the fat Syndic, Baudi-
chon, and the bandy-legged sailor, Jehan Brosse,
winning the battle against the armed and armored
forces of the invaders.
Illustrated by Solomon J. Solomon.
0pcClitre, WUipg & Co* 3S|> & Conan Bople
Author of " The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes "
GERARD   t    I
[3 TORIES of the remarkable adventures of a
Brigadier in Napoleon's army. In Etienne Gerard, Conan Doyle has added to his already famous
gallery of characters one worthy to stand beside
the notable Sherlock Holmes. Many and thrilling are Gerard's adventures, as related by himself,
for he takes part in nearly every one of Napoleon's
campaigns. In Venice he has an interesting
romantic escapade which causes him the loss of
an ear. With the utmost bravery and cunning
he captures the Spanish city of Saragossa; in
Portugal he saves the army; in Russia he feeds
the starving soldiers by supplies obtained at
Minsk, after a wonderful ride. Everwhere else
he is just as marvelous, and at Waterloo he is the
center of the whole battle.
For all his lumbering vanity he is a genial old
soul and a remarkably vivid story-teller.
Illustrated by W. B. Wollen. '
pit€lutz, ^illipjS & Co*
itoi^M,,:.. -: 3fy> Batotti #raimtn $lnlltp$
Author of ** Golden Fleece."
STUDY in the tyranny of wealth. James
Galloway founds his fortune on a fraud. He
ruins the man who has befriended him and steals
away his business. Vast railroad operations next
claim his attention. He becomes a bird of prey
in the financial world. One by one he forsakes
his principles; he becomes a hypocrite, posing,
even to himself. With the degeneration of his
moral character come domestic troubles. His
wife grows to despise him. One of his sons becomes a spendthrift; the other a forger. His
daughter, Helen, alone retains any affection for
him. His attempts to force his family into the
most exclusive circles subject him and them to
mortifying rebuffs, for all his millions cannot overcome the ill-repute of his name. At last, with his
hundred millions won, his house the finest in
America, his name a name to conjure with in the
financial world, he realizes that the goal he has
reached was not worth the race. Still he clings
to his old ways, and dies in a fit of anger, haggling
over his daughter's dowry.     $1.50.
^c€lmt, $3ttlfp0.&.co.
m J\. NOVEL which will fascinate by the grace
and charm with which it is written, by the delightful characters that take part in it, and by
the interest of the plot. The scene is laid in
a magnificent Austrian castle in North Italy,
and that serves as a background for the working out of a sparkling love-story between a
heroine who is brilliant and beautiful and a
hero who is quite her match in cleverness and
wit. It is a book with all the daintiness and
polish of Mr. Harland's former novels, and
other virtues all its own.
Frontispiece in colors by Louis Loeb.
^cClure, ^illipg &. Co. Bj> George 9foe
Author of " Fables in Slang "
JL HESE are short stories, brief little hammer-
stroke stories, just long enough to hit the nail
upon the head. Mr. Ade's " Babel" is Chicago,
and the scenes of the stories are laid in familiar
and unfamiliar quarters of that rushing Western
metropolis. It is a book about the real joys
and sorrows of real people, written in pure
English by the great master of American slang,
whose quaint philosophy and humor have
ranked him among America's most characteristic writers.
The stories deal with the upper, the middle,
and the under classes, and show in both pathetic and humorous light the happenings in
the fashionable circles upon the Lake front, as
well as among the Irish and Italian emigrants
in the squalid quarters of the city.


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